“Never put your own money in a show!” screams Max Bialystock in “The Producers.” “That’s taboo!”
Now more than ever.
Rosie O’Donnell’s new musical, “Taboo,” will close Feb. 8 after 16 previews and 100 regular performances. The former TV host made her Broadway debut as a producer with the Boy George tuner based on his life story. O’Donnell saw the show in London and, after much retooling, brought it to Broadway in November.
O’Donnell bankrolled the entire $10 million production, and its failure would appear to be the biggest loss any producer-investor has suffered in the history of Broadway.
Last season’s “Dance of the Vampires” may have cost more. Those producers put its debit at $12 million, although sources have reported higher sums. However, the cost of “Vampires” was spread over several producers and their investor pool. O’Donnell went it alone with “Taboo.”
In addition to losing its entire $10 million capitalization, the musical incurred big operating losses. With a break-even reported at $500,000, “Taboo” never grossed more than $380,000 for an eight-perf week. Last week, it took in just $281,333.
Various creatives on the show have waived royalties. O’Donnell launched a major TV campaign last month, but the box office never responded.
O’Donnell put on a brave face. In a written statement, she said, ” ‘Taboo’ was by far the most fulfilling experience of my career. Many lessons were learned, and so it goes. For this experience I am profoundly grateful and have no regrets.”
O’Donnell is at work with Cyndi Lauper on a new stage musical based on the producer’s autobiography, “Find Me.”