B’way closes up ‘Shop’

'Little Women' to replace tuner at Virginia

“Little Shop of Horrors” closes its doors Aug. 22 at the Virginia Theater, having failed to recoup its $10 million capitalization. Show will have played 40 previews and 372 regular perfs.

Next tenant of the Virginia will be new tuner “Little Women,” based on Louisa May Alcott’s classic novel. It opens Jan. 20.

Sutton Foster and Maureen McGovern head the “Little Women” cast under the direction of Susan H. Schulman.

“Little Women” has a score by Jason Howland, lyrics by Mindi Dickstein and a book by Allan Knee, whose play “Syncopation” recently got yanked from the fall 2004 Broadway sked due to finance problems.

Producers on the project include Randall L.Wreghitt, Dani Davis, Ken Gentry, Chase Mishkin and Ruben Brache in association with Theater Previews at Duke and Lisa Vioni.

The production comes to Broadway following an October tryout at Theater Previews at Duke in Durham, N.C.

Closing ‘Shop’

The Broadway redux of Alan Menken and Howard Ashman’s “Little Shop,” the cheery musical about a man-eating plant, had an earlier, healthier life downtown. After opening in 1982 at the now-defunct WPA, the tiny tuner quickly transferred to the Orpheum Theater, where it played more than 2,000 perfs.

The 1986 movie starred Rick Moranis, Steve Martin and Ellen Greene, who originated the role of Audrey on stage.

B.O. lightning did not strike thrice.

Retooled to fill a big Broadway stage, the current ‘Little Shop” immediately ran into trouble out of town. Jerry Zaks replaced director Connie Grappo. Kerry Butler took over for Alice Ripley as Audrey. And suddenly, the show was costing a profit-devouring $10 million to bring into Gotham, where it opened Oct. 2.

Most critics were not enthusiastic, and while the show had a modest break-even of about $350,000, it rarely grossed above $450,000 except on holiday weeks.

Last month, Joey Fatone replaced Hunter Foster as the “Little Shop” male lead, but the former ‘N Sync rocker had little effect on the box office. Two years ago, his stint in “Rent” sent B.O. spiking there.

“Little Shop” has plenty of company in the flop category. In recent years, such musical revivals as “Gypsy,” “Flower Drum Song,” “La Boheme,” “Oklahoma!,” “Into the Woods,” “Bells Are Ringing” and “The Rocky Horror Show” have failed to recoup on Broadway.

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