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‘Monty’ detours from road

Show going on hiatus, affected by Sept. 11 events

CHICAGO — The first national tour of “The Full Monty” is the first road victim of the economic malaise that has beset much of the live-entertainment industry since the events of Sept. 11.

“In order to deal with the current economic unpredictability of touring entertainment, the show is going on hiatus,” said spokesman Michael Hartman. Following the completion of the Chicago engagement Oct. 27, all remaining 2001 dates for the show have been canceled, including bookings in Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia.

An announcement to the cast was planned for Tuesday night.

If “The Full Monty” reappears at all, it will be in a reduced, lower-cost form. “The design will be streamlined to make booking more flexible,” Hartman said. “The producers are very upset by this turn of events.”

Also on Tuesday, the Broadway in Chicago presenting organization said it had decided to inject $1 million to keep the show running through its scheduled Windy City closing date, even though there was little hope of recovering the investment.

Without that unusual move, the entire tour would have shuttered at the end of this week.

Demise of the show, based on the hit movie of the same name and still playing on Broadway, is a dismal early indication of the serious impact of the current troubles on the touring biz, hitherto thought to be less vulnerable than Broadway itself.

Show not only lost a Chi performance on Sept. 11 but has seen a major dropoff in advance bookings in all of its slated markets. Sales have slowed to a crawl, although there was some indication they were picking up again Tuesday.

“We lost a substantial percentage of what would have been our advance business,” said Broadway in Chicago’s VP Eileen LaCario.

But recognizing the show’s demise would undermine its subscription base and possibly have a long-term impact on the city’s big road biz, Broadway in Chicago, co-owned by Clear Channel Communications and the Nederlander Organization, decided to reach into its own pockets instead of shuttering the tuner.

“Closing the show would not be the right message to send right now,” said Broadway in Chicago prexy Lou Razen. “We want our audience and subscribers to know that we are in this business for the long haul.”

Such an injection, though, can only be a short-term fix for a major tour that once looked like it would be a hinterland sure bet. But the current climate has proved inhospitable to a musical comedy based on the fun of naked men.

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