Broadway sees fall of ‘Saigon’

Musical to shutter after 11 Tony noms, $264 mil in almost ten years

NEW YORK — “Miss Saigon,” the sixth-longest running show in Broadway history, will drop its final curtain on Dec. 31, just 14 weeks shy of its 10th anniversary.

Cameron Mackintosh announced the closing of his long-running production of the Boublil & Schonberg musical, which has grossed $264 million and been seen by more than 5.9 million people. “Miss Saigon,” directed by Nicholas Hytner, opened on April 11, 1991, at the Broadway Theater.

From the beginning, the success of “Miss Saigon” startled Broadway. Two weeks after it opened, Daily Variety reported, “The numbers surrounding ‘Saigon’ continue to be stupendous, from the $10.9 million capitalization to the current $39 million advance to the $100 top (ticket price) to the weekly gross of over $710,000.” All four figures set records in 1991.

Broadway then was much less flush than today. Last week’s total gross hit a near-historic high of $16,933,545; the week beginning April 8, 1991, saw B.O. of $5.1 million.

Of that 1991 figure, 40% was attributable to just four shows — “Cats,” “Les Miserables,” “The Phantom of the Opera” and “Miss Saigon” — all Mackintosh productions, with the Boublil & Schonberg musical’s grosses topping the B.O. chart.

As with the announced closing of “Cats,” the final-performance call for “Miss Saigon” had been expected. The two musicals’ box-office records were very similar during the first six weeks of 2000, before Andrew Lloyd Webber announced the last perf of “Cats” would be June 25.

Some legit observers had wondered if Mackintosh would keep his Broadway “Saigon” running until April 2001 in order to celebrate its 10th anniversary, as he had done in London. The show had its world premiere in London in September 1989 and closed in October 1999.

In a written statement, the producer said, “Much as I will miss ‘Saigon’ at the Broadway Theater, I am utterly thrilled at how long this serious musical has run both on Broadway and in London. It has also been very heartening for everyone involved to have been able to deliver on our promise of putting on a production that has been the greatest platform for Asian talent in theatrical history.”

“Miss Saigon” received 11 Tony nominations and won three: Jonathan Pryce, actor in a musical; Lea Salonga, actress in a musical; and Hinton Battle, featured actor in a musical.

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