B'way's recent hits and misses look to travel beyond NYC
NEW YORK — Broadway’s class of 2005 should be a blessing for the road. Here’s the touring game plan for several new shows:
Will “Spamalot” be the next “Producers” on the road? Or could it turn into a behemoth like “Wicked”? One good omen: Unlike the irreverent Mel Brooks tuner, the irreverent Monty Python tuner is turning into a family show on Broadway. “A lot of parents are bringing their 10- and 11-ye
Producer Jeffrey Finn looks to book a 30-week tour of “On Golden Pond” with road fave Richard Chamberlain, kicking off in September 2006. “Due to the film, it is a familiar title that audiences have not seen onstage,” says Finn. Ernest Thompson’s play had a 1980 national tour, which predated the Henry Fonda starrer by a year. James Earl Jones, who did the recent Broadway revival, never figured into Finn’s tour plans due to his Verizon commitments, says the producer.
The Roundabout makes its first foray into touring with its surprise hit “12 Angry Men.” For the record, the company’s “Cabaret” tour was licensed, says artistic director Todd Haimes. Regarding “12AM,” he calls the play “a hybrid: a virgin and yet a well-known title, which is a marketing dream. Everybody has seen a high school production, but they haven’t seen this version, which has never toured.” Reginald Rose reworked his original TV script with the help of Harold Pinter, who directed it in London. The new version of “12AM” begins its tour in fall 2006, for 35 weeks.
Legit efforts have a tendency to be postponed. The tour for “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” is actually moving up its dates. Instead of opening in Providence, R.I., in September 2006, it will go out in July at a city to be announced, for a six-week engagement. “Jack O’Brien and Jerry Mitchell have other projects (“The Coast of Utopia” and “Legally Blonde,” respectively) that start earlier than expected,” producer Marty Bell says of his director and choreographer. As for the show’s B.O. prospects, will Midwestern auds cotton to lyrics about Latex gloves and KY jelly? “The presenters have not raised the issue,” says Bell. “But I would say David Yazbek is open to minor changes.”
On the other hand, “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” is taking the love-it-or-leave-it approach. Says producer David Stone, “There is no substitute for the erection song (‘M.U.E.’), which means we’re probably not playing Tulsa, Okla.” The tuner goes out fall 2006. “But we’re thinking of doing two or three markets as sit-downs before then.”
“Brooklyn” didn’t turn a profit on Broadway, but producer Michael Jenkins thinks it has a shot on the road. “It is the least expensive show to tour,” he says. “Presenters can put a blockbuster on their season, which would be a four-wall deal to drive subscriptions. They would not see great financial impact, but when you stick ‘Brooklyn’ into the season at low cost, it could perform well for them.” It goes out at $225,000 a week, and the backend is 50-50 split. The tour will begin in May with major sponsors attached to present charitable programs relating to the tuner’s subject: the homeless.
“Little Women” will kick off Aug. 30 at San Diego’s Civic Theater. Over the next year, it will play 30 cities, with most stops restricted to two-week stints. D.C. will be the longest; next summer it plays four weeks there. In Gotham, the musical was marketed to the tweens. The tour will look for broader appeal. “Focus groups told us that people saw it as a family title, not just a mothers-and-daughters show,” says producer Randall Wreghitt.