We wouldn’t think of sending Noises Off to Toronto without dropping in on Garth Drabinsky to pester him about “Show Boat.” So far, the producer has pushed back the date he believes the show will recoup at least a couple of times. His latest prognosis has the show returning its $9 million Broadway capitalization “in late September or early October.”
Well, maybe. Drabinsky claims “Show Boat” presently lies $1.1 million short of recoupment. But with running costs, including advertising, in the $725,000-per-week stratosphere, the show can’t afford shortfalls like last week’s, when the Gershwin Theater box office slipped to just over $747,000, its lowest take since opening week last October. To meet his own new date, Drabinsky has to average $865,000 per week over the next eight weeks – a period that takes him (and all of Broadway) into the traditional post-Labor Day slump. And “Show Boat” has topped that $865,000 figure only once this summer, during the week that ended July 2.
When this magnificent production opened in Toronto two years ago, I noted that it would take an act of charity to bring it to New York. It didn’t make any money in Toronto, where the show was playing to heavily discounted houses long before the end of its run. Drabinsky insists that he will never discount any “Show Boat” tickets on Broadway, and that the show will make money. But I’m still not so sure about either of those pledges.