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‘The Universe’ to end

Legiter eyes Boston; 'Blues' also to go dark

Joan Vail Thorne’s play “The Exact Center of the Universe” closes Jan. 9 at the Century Theater after a run of 143 performances at the Off Broadway Union Square venue. Lead producers Elsa Daspin Haft and Martin Markinson transferred the production, directed by John Tillinger and starring Frances Sternhagen, from the not-for-profit Women’s Project at Theater 4, where it opened April 7.

Haft, a producer on “Getting and Spending” and “Old Wicked Songs,” is in negotiations for a Boston run of the Thorne play about a Southern doyenne’s conflict with her new daughter-in-law. “Hopefully, we’ll move the production as is to Boston,” said the producer. As for which Boston theater might house the play, she quickly added, “That’s the problem. They have a theater crunch too.”

Haft is now in Florida at the Coconut Grove Playhouse for the Jan. 7 opening of Rhoda Lerman’s “Eleanor,” starring Jean Stapleton as Eleanor Roosevelt, with interest to bring the one-person play to New York City. “Exact Center” helmer John Tillinger directs.

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Atlanta sings ‘Blues’

The Broadway musical “It Ain’t Nothin’ but the Blues” also closes Jan. 9, vacating the Ambassador Theater, which will house the incoming production of Arthur Miller’s “Ride Down Mt. Morgan,” to begin previews March 20. “Blues” played five previews and 276 performances. Those figures include the Ambassador run, as well as its stint at the Vivian Beaumont Theater, where it opened on April 26. The musical revenue, conceived by Ron Taylor, was capitalized at $900,000 at the Beaumont, and incurred $300,000 transfer costs when it moved to the Ambassador in September. With a $165,000 break-even at the Ambassador, the show met or topped that amount for approximately half its run, hitting a low of $91,984 for Christmas week 1999.

“The holidays were a total wipeout,” said lead producer Eric Krebs. Instead of closing Jan. 2, he extended the run a week into January to take advantage of the current Assn. of Performing Arts Presenters convention, running Jan. 6-10 in New York.

“We have 90 presenters coming in this week to see the show and hoping we’ll get a number of bookings out of that,” Krebs said in reference to the “Blues” national tour, which kicks off Aug. 1 at the Fox Theater in Atlanta, where it coincides with the National Black Arts Festival. The tour is currently booked for 15 cities, and is being produced Krebs, Anne Squadron and CTM Prods.

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