NEW YORK — Has “Seussical” become a Velcro show to which every piece of bad news sticks?
Now comes word that the Lynn Ahrens/Stephen Flaherty tuner has pushed back its first preview date from Oct. 18 to Oct. 29; its Broadway premiere moves from Nov. 9 to Nov. 30. The date changes had been anticipated in the industry.
It has been a bumpy ride so far for “Seussical”: costume designer Catherine Zuber was replaced by William Ivey Long prior to the September tryout run in Boston, where an extension week of performances was canceled.
Two weeks ago, the producers (Barry and Fran Weissler, SFX, Universal) brought in director-choreographer Rob Marshall to work on the show in conjunction with original director Frank Galati and choreographer Kathleen Marshall, who remain with the production.
The tuner’s problems — although not insurmountable — feed an increasingly voracious Internet gossip circuit that has pretty much ignored Broadway’s other upcoming fare — like “The Full Monty.”
The Teflon of musicals, “Full Monty” pulled into town two weeks ago after a successful June tryout at San Diego’s Old Globe. There’s been nary a negative peep in the press about the David Yazbek/Terrence McNally musical. Already proclaimed a hit, the show opens Oct. 26 at the Eugene O’Neill Theater. Its only cloud on the horizon is the possibility of disappointment given impossibly high expectations.
Other shows skedded to open this autumn — “The Tale of the Allergist’s Wife,” “Proof,” “The Dinner Party” and “Jane Eyre” — have also enjoyed relatively calm transfers from the not-for-profit world. Unlike “Seussical,” none of these shows announced a Broadway opening — and so locked in that date — prior to scoring elsewhere.
Not-for-profit is the trend. This week, producers Allan and Beth Williams pulled their musical “The Rhythm Club” out of a commercial run at Chicago’s Oriental Theater in December. They cited the financial risk that can run upward of $1 million when a commercial production opens out of town for its pre-Broadway engagement.
Instead, “Rhythm Club” will go directly from a not-for-profit tryout at Arlington, Va.’s, Signature Theater to a Broadway run at the Virginia Theater, where it opens in March.
Elsewhere, the Dodgers unveiled its long-gestating “Hans Christian Andersen” musical at San Francisco’s ACT last month in a production the two orgs share. A consortium of producers have enhanced a production of “Thoroughly Modern Millie” at the La Jolla Playhouse, with an opening date set for Sunday.
Although both “Millie” and “Hans” are Broadway-bound, say their respective producers, no opening dates have been announced.
The all-commercial route continues to have its travelers. In addition to “Seussical,” there are Ken Ludwig and Don Schlitz’s “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer,” that goes to New Haven, Conn.’s, Shubert Theater prior to New York, and Mel Brooks and Thomas Meehan’s “The Producers,” that opens in February at Chicago’s Cadillac Palace before moving into the St. James for an April opening.