NEW YORK — At the annual Tony nominees lunch on Wednesday, legit insiders were calling it Sunday Bloody Sunday.
The musicals “Seussical” and “Jane Eyre” announced they would each call it quits on Sunday. Add to these back-to-back closings the shuttering of “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer,” “The Gathering” and “Judgment at Nuremberg” last Sunday, and it was suddenly a very expensive springtime for Broadway, with losses totaling close to $30 million for the five shows.
Reprieve for ‘Eyre’
But then, in the tradition of a true Broadway angel, pop star Alanis Morissette came to the rescue of the Charlotte Bronte tuner.
A close friend of “Jane Eyre” composer-lyricist Paul Gordon, Morissette suddenly put up enough money to keep the show running at least one more week. Tab is reported at $150,000. The “Jane Eyre” producers made the about-face announcement late Wednesday afternoon. Down came the closing notice. For now.
What triggered the shuttering stampede?
The Tony Award nominations were announced May 7, and with them came the usual spate of closings for shows needing good news but receiving little or none.
With just 21 performances under its belt, “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer,” capitalized at $7.5 million, experienced the briefest stay of any Broad-way show this season. It received just two Tony noms, for lighting and set design, and quickly lost its entire investment.
“Seussical” had put up a longer fight with even more red ink to show for it.
After 34 previews and 197 regular performances, Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty’s tuner will be a goner come Sunday. Produced by SFX Theatrical Group, Barry & Fran Weissler and Universal Studios, the musical opened in Gotham on Nov. 30.
Capitalized at $11 million, the production has to date returned $1.1 million, according to Barry Weissler. Due to a 2002 tour, the producer said, “The revenue flow will continue,” and he spoke optimistically of the possibility of foreign productions and a movie. But it has been a long, arduous haul.
“This season will be remembered for the bookends of ‘The Producers’ and ‘Seussical,’ ” said one producer involved with neither show. “The media loved to hate the one as much as they adored the other.”
For a brief moment last winter, Weissler appeared to have defied his critics when he replaced his original star David Shiner with Rosie O’Don-nell for six weeks. B.O. zoomed from $292,800 with Shiner to a peak of $618,040 with O’Donnell. With Shiner’s return in March, those figures fell back to earth.
In the end, the “Seussical” producers ran out of stars. Even teen pop star Aaron Carter, who had provided a momentary bump in B.O. this spring, failed to prevent the show from collapsing last week. With Carter in for five out of eight performances during the May 7-13 session, the gross fell a whopping $200,476 — by far the steepest decline on Broadway for the week — to rest at a final $280,924 cume on a potential of $755,427 at the Richard Rodgers Theater.