At 1,182 seats, the Broadhurst — currently housing the limited run of Tom Hanks starrer “Lucky Guy,” which recently extended to July 3 — is smaller than the 1,498-seat Winter Garden by about 315 seats. The downsizing rebalances the equation for a stalwart title that is still a big seller in tourist-heavy frames, but in other weeks is less in demand than it was earlier in its lifespan.
Shifting theaters from a larger venue to a smaller one, in response to lessened demand for tickets, is often a component in a Broadway musical’s extended life. The 17-year-old “Chicago,” for instance, opened at the Richard Rodgers (1,380 seats) in 1996, upscaled at the height of its popularity to the Shubert (1,428 seats) and then in 2003 moved to the Ambassador (1,120 seats), where it’s been running ever since. “The Lion King,” which opened at the 1,800-seat New Amsterdam in 1997, moved to its current home, the 1,700 seat Minskoff, in 2006.
The “Mamma Mia!” move will leave the Winter Garden, one of the Rialto’s prime musical houses, up for grabs for the first time in a long while. Prior to “Mamma Mia!,” which opened there in 2001, the theater was occupied by the 18-year run of “Cats.”
Both the Winter Garden and the Broadhurst are owned by the Shubert Org, the Rialto landlord that owns and operates 17 of the 40 Main Stem venues.