Amid the continuing global expansion of stage musical “Once,” the Broadway production that launched the Tony-winning legit title will shutter in January, ending its run after about three years on the boards.
With “Once” having just opened in Melbourne and gearing up for stagings in Seoul, Toronto and cities in Japan, the decision to close the Broadway incarnation comes as weekly sales in New York have steadily tapered over the last year amid competition from strong-selling newer titles including “Kinky Boots,” “Aladdin” and “Beautiful.” At its post-Tony height, “Once” made a habit of racking up million-dollar weeks; last week the musical earned $358,134.
Still, the project counts as a serious success, both creatively and financially. Many in the theater industry cite the show as one of Broadway’s most artistically successful musical adaptations of a movie (in this case the 2007 indie film, little-seen until the musical helped boost its profile). Critics loved the production, and the Broadway staging, which opened in March 2012 after earlier productions at American Repertory Theater and New York Theater Workshop, nabbed eight Tonys including best musical.
With box office propelled by Tony love, “Once” recouped its $5.5 million capitalization costs in an unusually swift 21 weeks, and continued to report robust sales for months after that.
The Broadway success of the show spurred a West End production, which opened in April 2013 and will play through March 21, 2015. A U.S. tour, out on the road since last year, will play multiple weeks in Japan later this fall. Along with scheduled stagings in Seoul and Toronto, producers said there are developing productions in countries ranging from Sweden to Brazil to Thailand.
“We’ve got all these other productions around the world, and we wanted to go out on a high here on Broadway,” said Barbara Broccoli, the Bond franchise producer who produces “Once” with John N. Hart Jr., Patrick Milling Smith and Frederick Zollo, among others.
With music by Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova and book by Enda Walsh, “Once” follows the relationship between a Dublin street musician and the woman who helps him reignite his love of music. John Tiffany (“The Glass Menagerie”) directs, with choreography by Stephen Hoggett (“American Idiot,” “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time”).
In New York, “Once” will stick it out through the year-end holidays, traditionally the most profitable season on Broadway, and then shutter Jan. 4, leaving the Bernard B. Jacobs Theater vacant for a spring tenant.