'Scandalous,' 'Anarchist' Stage Swift Retreats From Broadway

Joan Marcus
Patti LuPone and Debra Winger in "The Anarchist"

The Kathie Lee Gifford musical and the new David Mamet play will both close less than a month after opening to negative reviews.

NEW YORK -- Chalk up two more swift deaths on Broadway in a new season already littered with roadkill.

Less than a month after opening to withering reviews and dismal grosses, Scandalous, the bio-musical about the rollercoaster life of the 1920s Los Angeles evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson, will close on Sunday, Dec. 9. With a score by David Pomeranz and David Friedman, the show is a passion project of Kathie Lee Gifford, who wrote the book and lyrics.

The $9 million production opened Nov. 15 and will have played 31 previews and 29 regular performances when the final curtain comes down. While critics generally praised Broadway regular Carolee Carmello's performance in the leading role, the show was otherwise dismissed, scoring a D+ average on theater review aggregate site Stagegrade.com.

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While the closing notice had been expected for the past fortnight, theater pundits will no doubt be tuning in to see how Gifford addresses the musical's critical and commercial failure from her co-hosting perch on NBC's Today on Wednesday.

An even more brutal demise met David Mamet's new play The Anarchist, a two-hander starring Patti LuPone and Debra Winger that opened Dec. 2 and will close on Sunday, Dec. 16. 

A 65-minute faceoff between an infamous radical who has served 35 years of a life sentence and the unyielding prison officer assigned to rule on her parole eligibility, the drama was widely judged to be an unrewarding intellectual exercise with minimum theatricality. It scored a D on Stagegrade. That production, which Mamet also directed, will have played 23 previews and 17 regular performances when it closes.

The Broadway season's most abrupt casualty to date remains The Performers, a comedy set against the backdrop of the Adult Film Awards in Las Vegas, which struggled to regain momentum after Hurricane Sandy and opened to unappreciative reviews as well. Starring Cheyenne Jackson, Ari Graynor, Alicia Silverstone and Henry Winkler, that production closed Nov. 18 after 23 previews and just seven post-opening performances.

STORY: 'Chaplin' Makes Early Exit From Broadway

The addition of Scandalous and The Anarchist makes three announcements of early exits for new-season Broadway entries this week. On Monday, producers announced that Chaplin, the bio-musical about silent screen star Charlie Chaplin, would close Jan. 6. Despite tepid business, that show will have eked out 24 previews and 136 regular performances when it folds.

Producers still shopping for a venue for their spring openings now have a choice of the freshly vacated Barrymore, Longacre, Neil Simon and Golden theaters.