B.O. fluctuation shuts down DreamWorks project

Shrek the Musical,” the first legit outing from DreamWorks Theatricals, will shutter Jan. 3 after a little more than a year on the boards.

With the production long prone to significantly fluctuating weekly grosses, many legiters suspected a closing date soon after New Year’s (and after holding on for the traditional holiday sales boom). In recent weeks “Shrek” has regularly played to auds at about 60% of capacity or less, last week grossing $583,404 (and slipping to a 49% aud capacity in early September).

“While we were hopeful that the show would have a longer run on Broadway,” said Jeffrey Katzenberg, CEO of DreamWorks Animation, “we believe it will continue to create financial value for the company and deliver profits beyond our initial investment.”

But because DreamWorks has kept its cards close to the vest, no one was certain how long the fledgling stage producer — perceived as engaged in a Rialto rivalry with Disney Theatrical Prods. — might keep the show open in an effort to save face.

During its run, “Shrek” proved that it could attract some tourist auds, consistently posting gains in weeks when Gotham saw a rise in visitors. But Broadway box office never held steady at the kind of high numbers many suspected would be required to sustain the elaborate production.

The show, which earned mixed critical notices in the wake of its Dec. 14 opening, was nommed for eight Tonys, including top tuner, but came away with a single trophy for Tim Hatley’s costume design. The musical has grossed $37.7 million since it began Rialto perfs Nov. 8.

Based on the DreamWorks movie and the book by William Steig, “Shrek” has music by Jeanine Tesori (“Thoroughly Modern Millie”) and book and lyrics by David Lindsay-Abaire (“Rabbit Hole”). Jason Moore (“Avenue Q”) directs.

Production tried out at Seattle’s 5th Avenue Theater last year. Tinkering during the development process included the recasting of an actor in a major part, the reimagining of another character and the addition of director-choreographer Rob Ashford to the creative team as a consultant.

The musical is a co-production of DreamWorks Theatricals and Neal Street Prods. A previously announced national tour of “Shrek” will launch in Chicago in July.

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