The show, which suffered from some bad buzz during previews, earned favorable reviews from many major papers, but those notices didn’t spur enough advance sales to keep the production alive. It’s been a tough season for plays on Broadway, and the “Hughie” closing underscores the fact that casting a star doesn’t guarantee a profit in a competitive season. This year a wide array of notable names are appearing on stage, with Lupita Nyong’o outing “Eclipsed” opening Sunday and Jeff Daniels and Michelle Williams opening in “Blackbird” March 10.
Directed by Michael Grandage, “Hughie” is a 55-minute one-act by Eugene O’Neill, the playwright far better known for massive stage epics like “Long Day’s Journey Into Night” and “The Iceman Cometh.” Touching on many of the same themes of those two works, “Hughie” centers on a down-on-his-luck hustler (Whitaker) delivering what is essentially a long monologue to the new night clerk (Frank Wood) at a New York hotel.
Michael Grandage, who has directed previous star-driven Broadway outings including Jude Law’s “Hamlet” and Daniel Radcliffe’s “The Cripple of Inishmaan,” staged “Hughie” with a design team that won the most consistent accolades from the critics.
Originally set to play into June, “Hughie” will now close March 27. In the three weeks since it began performances, the show has never topped weekly sales of $350,000.