Martin McDonagh's 'Hangmen' Is Broadway's First Coronavirus Casualty

Hangmen Production Still 1 - Publicity - H 2020
Joan Marcus

The acclaimed production, previously seen at London's Royal Court Theatre and off-Broadway's Atlantic Theater Company, will not resume performances once Broadway reopens.

In what is expected to be the first of many such announcements by shows unable to hold out financially through the shutdown of live performance venues, the producers of Martin McDonagh's Hangmen have confirmed that the play will not reopen on Broadway.

Following acclaimed earlier runs at London's Royal Court Theatre and off-Broadway's Atlantic Theater Company, the production began previews Feb. 28 in its Broadway transfer at the John Golden Theatre and was scheduled to open March 19 in a limited engagement through July 18. But performances were suspended March 12 as part of New York's initial statewide mandate to close venues with a seating capacity of over 500 due to growing concerns about the spread of the new coronavirus.

While the blackout remains in place through April 12, theater insiders generally expect it to last at least twice as long, with some predicting that Broadway won't be up and running again until late summer or early fall. 

"Because of the current health crisis, which has created circumstances beyond our control, it is with deep regret that we are not able to resume performances of Hangmen," lead producers Robert Fox, Jean Doumanian, Elizabeth I. McCann and Craig Balsam said Friday in a statement. "With no definite end in sight of the government's closure and Broadway's suspension, we have no alternative but to release the actors from their contracts and close the production.

"Given our show's budget and capitalization, we do not have the economic resources to be able to continue to pay the theater owners, cast and crew through this still undefined closure period," continued the statement. "Therefore, in the interests of all involved, we regretfully have no choice but to close the show. We are all extremely disappointed that we cannot give Martin McDonagh and our fabulous director, cast and team the celebrated opening they deserve."

McDonagh's corrosive dark comedy was considered among the frontrunners for best play at this year's Tony Awards. It centers on Harry Wade, the second-most-famous executioner in Britain, and is set primarily in his pub in Northern England in 1965, soon after the national abolition of capital punishment, when a shady stranger from London comes to call with dubious intentions.

Directed by Matthew Dunster, the Broadway production starred Mark Addy, Dan Stevens, Tracie Bennett, Ewen Bremner, Owen Campbell, Jeremy Crutchley, Gaby French, Josh Goulding, John Hodgkinson, Richard Hollis, John Horton and Ryan Pope.

The play won a string of award on both sides of the Atlantic, including the Olivier Award for best new play in 2016 and the New York Drama Critics Circle Award for best foreign play in 2018. McDonagh is a four-time previous Tony nominee for best play, for The Beauty Queen of Leenane in 1998, The Lonesome West in 1999, The Pillowman in 2005 and The Lieutenant of Inishmore in 2006. His work was last seen on Broadway in the 2014 revival of The Cripple of Inishmaan that starred Daniel Radcliffe.

Conservative estimates of the losses to be sustained by Broadway in a two-month shutdown are north of $200 million in box office alone, while the hit to the economy in theater district businesses such as hotels, restaurants, bars and parking garages could bring that total up to $700 million or more, taking down an incalculable number of jobs along with it.