Simon tuner to close, sparking B'way shuffle

NEW YORK — Paul Simon’s $11 million, critically scorched musical “The Capeman” will close March 28, reversing its producers’ vows to keep running at least until Tony Award nominations are announced in May. The musical will have played only 59 previews and 68 regular performances.

In a terse statement about the closing, Simon said, “What I enjoyed the most apart from the creative process was the intensity with which the audience, in particular the Latino audience, responded to the play.” An original cast recording of “Capeman” is under way, and a spokesman said producers are planning a concert tour, in addition to national and international theatrical productions.

Producers lose

But the quick shuttering of “The Capeman” means Simon and his producers Dan Klores, Brad Grey, Edgar Dobie, James L. Nederlander and Plenaro Prods., lost the show’s entire $11 million investment.

Simon is thought to have put up the bulk of the investment, with the producing team raising the rest.

The musical, more than seven years in Simon’s making, recounts the true-life story of Salvador (Capeman) Agron, a 16-year-old gang member in 1950s New York who murdered two other teens. The troubled production received virtually unanimous pans from critics, and with weekly grosses of less than $500,000 (of a potential $784,593) has been breaking even at best.

The “Capeman” closing has been rumored for weeks, but most in the industry expected the show to last at least until early summer and possibly through Labor Day.

Broadway shuffle

The closing is part of an unexpected Broadway theater shuffle disclosed Thursday . The Off Broadway smash “The Beauty Queen of Leenane” will move to Broadway’s Walter Kerr Theater, bumping “Forever Tango,” which will move into “Capeman’s” about-to-be vacant and much larger Marquis Theater.

The chain-reaction booking was sparked by the decision of the Jujamcyn Organization to house “Beauty Queen” at its 928-seat Kerr. The Martin McDonagh play is a surefire contender for a best play Tony. Jujamcyn president Rocco Landesman persuaded his co-producers in “Tango” (Steven Baruch, Richard Frankel, Thomas Viertel and Marc Routh) that the Argentine dance show is capable of sustaining a move to a larger theater.

With no Jujamcyn house available, the “Tango” producing team went to the Nederlander Organization, and talks quickly focused on the 1,589-seat Marquis, where “Capeman” has been struggling to find an audience since it opened to Jan. 29.

‘Beauty Queen’ a hit

“Beauty Queen” will be produced on Broadway by the Atlantic Theater Co., Randall Wreghitt, Chase Mishkin, Steven M. Levy and Leonard Soloway, in association with Julian Schlossberg and Norma Langworthy.

The show, a co-production of Ireland’s Druid Theater and London’s Royal Court Theater directed by Garry Hines, will end its Off Broadway run at the Atlantic two weeks ahead of schedule April 5, begin previews at the Kerr April 14 and officially open April 22.

The transfer marks the first Broadway move for the Atlantic Theater Co., a successful Off Broadway company founded in 1983 by playwright David Mamet and actor William H. Macy.

The producers worked out an exchange agreement with Actors’ Equity to allow the play’s Irish stars to stay on Broadway for 26 weeks.

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