Gender-bender ‘V/V’ ends

NEW YORK — Broadway’s “Victor/Victoria” will close July 27 after a nearly two-year run that featured Julie Andrews, Liza Minnelli and, most recently, Raquel Welch, but failed to recoup the musical’s capitalization.

Welch will have been on the boards for only six weeks when the tuner shuts down, but her days in its gender-bending starring role may not be over. According to producers, the actress is “inches away” from finalizing a deal to appear in a national touring production of the show, though details about the tour are not yet available.

The Broadway production will close after having earned back only a little over half of its $8.5 million capitalization, though producers say the settlement of an outstanding insurance claim would bring the return on capitalization closer to 100%. Producers have brought a lawsuit against the Lexington Insurance Co., which has refused to compensate them for several missed performances by Andrews, saying she failed to accurately disclose her medical condition when originally applying for the policy.

But Andrews, who suffered numerous health setbacks during her tenure with the show and cited fatigue as her reason for leaving it, has agreed to appear in two special performances of the show (separate from the Welch touring production) later this year. She will play at Houston’s Theater Under the Stars on Aug. 26 and at Seattle’s Fifth Avenue on Oct. 14.

There have been persistent rumors that Andrews will star in a London production of the musical at some time in the future.

Welch’s much-ballyhooed takeover of Andrews’ role a month ago failed to reverse a months-long downward B.O. trend that turned around only briefly during a guest stint by Liza Minnelli last February.

While Welch received less than rave notices for her performance in the tuner, she also faced the challenge of assuming the part during the dog days of summer, which usually bring among the most languid receipts of the Broadway season.

“Unfortunately the show has met with the traditional July box office turn-down and it makes no financial sense for us to weather the bad weeks,” said producer John Scher. The show’s other two producers are Blake Edwards, who also is its director (and Andrews’ husband), and Tony Adams.

The show, which during its first year was consistently among the highest-grossing on Broadway, lately has been bringing in receipts far under its potential.

For the week ending Sunday, the show grossed $363,788, a $49,000 improvement over the previous week’s total, but still less than half of its $809,107 take at capacity.

“Victor/Victoria” will have played 25 previews and 738 regular performances when it closes at the Marquis Theater. In addition to Welch, stars Tony Roberts, Tom Sardinia and Tara O’Brien will finish out the run.

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