Hwang play falls on ‘Face’

“Face Value,” playwright David Henry Hwang’s critically burned farce, became Broadway’s first pre-opening flop of the season Sunday, sending $ 2 million down the drain.

Noting “a lack of box office interest,” the show’s producers closed the play at the Cort Theater after only eight previews.

“Face Value” was set to open Sunday. The play grossed a dismal $ 50,114 for the week, a fraction of the $ 338,814 potential.

The quick closing came as no surprise to anyone who read the show’s Boston reviews.

After opening at the Colonial Theater in Boston on Feb. 14, Boston Globe critic Kevin Kelly wrote that the play is “not very funny, struggles to keep going, exhausts itself long before it’s over, and ends up sentimentalizing its own thought.”

Variety’s Markland Taylor said the play “offers futher evidence of the difficulty of writing, directing and acting farce,” and that the playwright, director Jerry Zaks and most of the cast seem uncomfortable in the genre.

Other reviewers shared their opinion, leading to speculation that “Face Value” wouldn’t make it to Broadway at all.

“Face Value” was Hwang’s follow-up to his 1988 hit, “M. Butterfly.”

The comedy was loosely based on the casting controversy surrounding the Broadway production of “Miss Saigon,” wherein Welsh actor Jonathan Pryce played the role of a Eurasian pimp, angering Asian-Anmerican actors and others in the theater industry.

“Face Value” was produced by Stuart Ostrow, Scott Rudin and Jujamcyn Theaters. No information regarding advance sales was available from a production spokesman yesterday.

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