Zero Tony noms, poor grosses lead to closure
The Broadway season has claimed another major casualty in the big-budget historical tuner “The Pirate Queen,” which will close June 17 after a truncated run.
The epic musical by Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schonberg — the team behind 1980s behemoths “Les Miserables” and “Miss Saigon” — opened April 5 at the Hilton Theater to blistering reviews and will have played 85 performances and 32 previews when it shutters.
Following the tepid critical reception to its Chicago tryout last fall, show doctors Graciela Daniele and Richard Maltby, Jr. were brought in to help Frank Galati’s production, pushing its budget even higher to an unconfirmed cost believed to be $16 million.
The musical’s failure to bag a single Tony nomination added to its steadily slipping grosses and the high weekly running cost of a production with a cast of 42, prompting the early closing notice. Capacity for the week ending June 3 had dropped to 54%.
Possibly due to the deep pockets of producers Moya Doherty and John McColgan, who made their fortune on the international “Riverdance” phenomenon, “The Pirate Queen” hung on longer than two other musical flops from earlier in the season, “The Times They Are a-Changin'” and “High Fidelity,” both of which threw in the towel soon after reviews hit.
Despite its short lifespan, the Rialto production will spawn a cast recording, due July 3 from Masterworks Broadway. Doherty and McColgan also have announced that plans are under way for an English-language production in Europe.
The vacancy at the Hilton makes that theater the likely Broadway touchdown spot for Mel Brooks’ new tuner, “Young Frankenstein,” due in New York for Halloween following its summer tryout at Seattle’s Paramount Theater.
The musical comedy originally had been slated to take up residence at the St. James, home of Brooks’ recently closed smash “The Producers,” but the team behind both shows has made no secret of their attraction to the larger Hilton, which seats close to 1,800.