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West End ‘Drowsy’ closing

Show was a surprise hit on Broadway

Looks like “The Drowsy Chaperone” never woke up at the London box office. The West End production of the Broadway tuner, which opened at the Novello Theater May 14, will shutter Aug. 4.

It’s a quick exit for a show that turned into a surprise hit on Broadway in spring 2006, and won five Tonys. The New York incarnation swiftly recouped its $8 million capitalization in November.

But the musical has proved a tougher sell in the U.K.

“London ticket sales for our show have been slower than needed to sustain a longer run at the Novello,” said “Drowsy” producer Kevin McCollum, who was also one of the show’s producers on Broadway.

The musical comedy centers on a lonely man who gets swept up in a fictional 1920s tuner. London production stars Bob Martin, who starred in the Broadway production and won a Tony as co-book writer, and Elaine Paige (“Evita,” “Cats”).

Broadway hits have found success on the West End in the past, including “Wicked,” “The Lion King” and “Chicago.” In addition, the year-old “Avenue Q,” also co-produced by McCollum, seems to be keeping its head above water.

On the other hand, word in London is that “Monty Python’s Spamalot” is not selling particularly well, and the speedy shuttering of “Drowsy” underscores the fact that strong Rialto sales and an armful of Tonys don’t always translate into success across the Pond.

News of the “Drowsy” closing could give pause to the producers of Stateside tuners readying a transatlantic jump, including “Hairspray” (opening at the Shaftesbury in October), “Jersey Boys,” “Grey Gardens” and “Spring Awakening.”

“We go very humbly,” said Ira Pittelman, a lead producer of “Spring Awakening,” which is still finalizing its timeline for a London production. “You can’t assume anything over there.”

London incarnation of “Drowsy” is produced by McCollum, Roy Miller, Bob Boyett, Stephanie McClelland, Barbara Freitag and Jill Furman. Tuner begins a North American tour in Toronto in September, while international productions are in the works for Japan and Australia.

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