‘Millie’ set to close; new ‘Shop’ topliner

'Heart' beats on at Public

“Thoroughly Modern Millie” closes June 20 on Broadway.

Producer Hal Luftig reported that the Tony-winning musical will pay back 80% of its $9.5 million capitalization after 936 performances at the Marquis Theater. The tuner was written by Dick Scanlan and Jeanine Tesori, based on Richard Morris’ screenplay for the 1967 flapper movie starring Julie Andrews.

“Millie” has a weekly break-even between $425,000 and $500,000. It brought in $389,973 last week and has a long, difficult summer ahead.

“Fourth of July week will be terrible,” Luftig said, “and who knows what the Republican Convention will bring? We never thought of running through the fall.”

Last year, the July 4 session brought a 13% decrease at the overall Broadway box office.

Although the Broadway production of “Millie” failed to recoup, Luftig expects the outstanding 20% of the capitalization to be repaid through subsidiary sales, the U.K. tour and the current North American national tour, which has signed for another 42 weeks.

Luftig and two other “Millie” producers, Fox Theatricals and Dori Berinstein, have recently joined forces to turn movie “Legally Blonde” into a stage musical.

Other Broadway news:

  • “Little Shop of Horrors” has looked equally endangered this spring on Broadway. Last week its receipts fell below break-even to $259,466. However, it’s not closing this month or next.

    Joey Fatone replaces Hunter Foster in the role of Seymour, with the former ‘N Sync rocker starting perfs June 24. Fatone made his Broadway debut in “Rent” in August 2002, creating an immediate 14.5% spike in receipts.

    Foster moves into the Leo Bloom role at “The Producers,” where he replaces Roger Bart. His perfs begin June 15; Brad Oscar continues in the role of Max Bialystock.

  • The Worth Street production of “The Normal Heart” will continue to perform at the Public Theater through the summer. Producers Scott Rudin, Daryl Roth and Jordan Roth have joined with Luftig to keep the show running past its May 30 extension and to enhance the marketing campaign.

    Larry Kramer’s drama documents the early days of the AIDS epidemic. It opened at the Public Theater in 1985, and the current revival, starring Raul Esparza and Joanna Gleason, preemed there last month.

    Upbeat reviews fueled speculation about a possible Broadway transfer for the Worth production.

    “It didn’t make sense to go to Broadway during the summer,” Luftig said. “We’ll let it run at the Public, then we’ll re-evaluate if it goes to Broadway as part of the fall season.”

  • Roundabout confirms that Natasha Richardson will be its Blanche in a March 2005 staging of “A Streetcar Named Desire.” The Tennessee Williams revival follows “Pacific Overtures” into Studio 54. The actress’s previous ventures with Roundabout include “Cabaret,” in 1998, and “Anna Christie,” in 1993.

  • Stephen Belber’s “Match” will close May 23 on Broadway after 81 performances. It appears to be the first casualty for a Tony nomination. While the show’s headliner Frank Langella nabbed an actor nom, the play itself did not. Neither did Langella’s costars, Jane Adams and Ray Liotta, who made his Broadway debut in the production.

The current season has not been kind to new plays. Despite 13 entries in 2003-04, only three look to make it to the June 6 Tony Awards: “I Am My Own Wife,” “Golda’s Balcony” and “Frozen.” None has yet recouped.

Bryony Lavery, author of “Frozen,” got some good news. Her play will open at San Francisco’s Curran Theater during the 2005-06 season.