Broadway ‘Hughie’ Closing Early After Box Office Struggle

Hughie closing
Marc Brenner

Hughie,” the Broadway play starring Forest Whitaker that opened last week, has posted a closing notice for the end of the month, abbreviating its run after weeks of very slow sales.

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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.

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  1. AnneBolyen says:

    Poor Forest, his career post his Oscar win has been non-existent

  2. Ronnie says:

    Rumors about Whitaker not knowing his lines ala’ Pacino in China Doll as well as the short running time definitely factor in. No one wants to pay $150 for a short time in the theatre.

  3. Paul Brno says:

    I saw Jason Robards in Hughie twice in 1964. The second time I saw it the curtain was half way down because only maybe a hundred people were in the audience. I was working as a waiter at the Texas Pavillion at the 1964-5 World’s Fair and I waited on Jason Robards and Lauren Bacall when the Emmeys were held there. And Goldie Hawn also worked there as a dancer/singer with two other girls. They performed a couple of times every day. I went to the Neighborhood Playhouse with David Mamet and Diane Keaton. And HB
    Studio with Ray Sharkey. I worked as a background player on “Panic In Needle Park” and Al Pacino asked me where the coffee table was when we were at the Staten Island ferry. I was a waiter, bartender, doorman/porter and finally as a garbage man for 24 years. I hated the job. I worked with morons and crazy people. And every day I’d ask myself isn’t there something else I’d rather be doing like acting in a movie or a TV show? I wrote a play all about it called “The Sanitation Chronicles”. I’m turning it into a screenplay for me to star in because it’s never too late to be what you might have been.

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