Broadway Gears Up for Spring Shuffle as ‘Pippin’ Closes, ‘It’s Only a Play’ Eyes a Move

With the Broadway revival of “Pippin” joining the handful of shows closing or going on hiatus in January — including musicals “Cinderella,” “Once” and “Motown” — Broadway has set the stage for the annual post-New Year’s shuffle of its slate, setting off speculation about what new productions will manage to come in for a landing this spring.

The shuttering of the Tony-winning revival of “Pippin” (pictured above with the original cast), which opened in April 2013 and recouped its $8.5 million capitalization in December, leaves vacant the 990-seat Music Box Theater. What show will move in? The upcoming revival of “The Heidi Chronicles,” starring Elisabeth Moss and Jason Biggs, looks poised to claim the theater, despite the fact that many in the industry believe it’ll be a commercial transfer of “The Visit,” the Kander and Ebb musical revived by the Williamstown Theater Festival over the summer.

Meanwhile, there’s serious speculation that megaselling comedy “It’s Only a Play,” now scheduled to run through Jan. 4, will jump next door to the Jacobs Theater, where “Once” now lives, for an extended run. Martin Short is said to be on tap to replace Nathan Lane when he exits to star in “The Iceman Cometh” at the Brooklyn Academy of Music early next year. (The Schoenfeld, where “It’s Only a Play” now runs, has already been claimed by Helen Mirren topliner “The Audience.”)

Producers of tuner “Amazing Grace,” which recently opened in Chicago, are on the hunt for a theater too, and musicals “Gigi” and “Something Rotten” also get mentioned as possibilities for the spring. London hit “King Charles III” hasn’t yet confirmed a theater, although that one might wait til the fall, some say.

Like “Pippin,” the longterm run of “Once” will also close Jan. 4, as will the limited engagements of plays “This Is Our Youth” and “The Real Thing.” “Cinderella” shutters Jan. 3. “Motown,” closing Jan. 18 as part of an unusual plan to go on a Broadway hiatus and return in 2016 (in the meantime opening in London and touring the U.S.), will make way for “Finding Neverland,” opening April 8 at the Lunt-Fontanne, while “Doctor Zhivago” (opening April 21) will take the Broadway Theater once “Cinderella” goes.

The weekend right after New Year’s often sees a mass exodus from the Rialto, as shows stick it out for the annual holiday bonanza of the Thanksgiving and Christmas weeks then pack it in before the doldrums of January — an annual sales phenomenon counteracted by Streetwide sales initiatives including Kids Night (launching tomorrow for performances Jan. 9-15) and, usually, Broadway Week (which hasn’t announced January dates yet).

The Music Box, the Marquis and the Longacre (where “You Can’t Take It With You” is now running) are among the theaters that could currently accommodate a spring show, at least as the schedule stands now.

The cirque-inflected “Pippin,” which officially announced its closing Oct. 3, logged impressive sales in first half of its Broadway run but has since seen sales taper.

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