Motown closing hiatus temporary Broadway

Musical's Broadway incarnation goes on hiatus in January ahead of a U.K. run in summer 2015; title will re-open on Broadway in July 2016

Broadway’s “Motown” is taking a breather.

Producers of the musical have made the unusual decision to close the tuner in New York — but only temporarily, planning to bring the show back to the Main Stem a year and a half after it shutters in January.

Meanwhile, an ongoing U.S. tour — which just finished up its stop in Chicago — continues to hit the road while a U.K. production is on the books for summer 2015.

The Broadway move seems calculated to preempt a decline in sales of which the week-to-week grosses have only just begun to show evidence. “Motown,” fueled by the global recognition of the brand and its catalog of iconic tunes, sold like hotcakes right out of the gate when it began previews in March 2013. After a long stretch of million-dollar-plus weeks, the tuner’s weekly B.O. has proven a bit more erratic this summer, ranging from less than $900,000 to just above the $1 million mark.

The hiatus will give producers and creatives the chance to do a little retooling of the show, and to reduce its sizable running costs. Producers said the production is on track to recoup its $18 million in capitalization before it shutters in January.

The long-lead closing notice for January could add back some of that lost sales momentum as audiences try to catch the show before it shutters. (A similar strategy seems to have worked for “Newsies,” which closes Sunday.) With the U.S. tour and the upcoming U.K. production broadening the international profile of the musical, “Motown” will then return to the boards just as Broadway’s summer tourist season kicks in.

The title has dibs on a Nederlander theater to be determined, based on venue availability. The show currently plays the Lunt-Fontanne, one of the nine Broadway houses owned by the Nederlander Org.

“Motown” is set to close on Broadway Jan. 18, returning in July 2016.

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