Julie Taymor’s production of “M. Butterfly,” which recently opened on Broadway with Clive Owen in the cast, has set its closing date, with producers announcing the show will go dark in January after a run of middling sales weeks.
Backers of the production had hoped to catch the attention of Broadway theatergoers with Owen on the marquee and the Broadway return of Taymor, whose staging of “The Lion King” just turned 20. The play, about a French diplomat’s affair with a mysterious Chinese performer, also touches on gender identity issues that still resonate today, and the new production incorporates some significant changes that playwright David Henry Hwang made to his original script, which played Broadway in a two-year run that began in 1988.
But serious plays can be a challenge to sell in a Broadway market that thrives on musicals and the tourist crowds they attract, and reviews for this “M. Butterfly” were mixed. Weekly grosses have mostly rung in north of $500,000 (with the current high at about $675,000) — decent, but not the kind of spectacular numbers that make a play a definite hit. Last week, the stats took a tumble as Thanksgiving crowds flocked to brand-name musicals, and Owen was out for two performances.
With a cast that also includes Jin Ha, Murray Bartlett, Michael Countryman and Enid Graham, “M. Butterfly” will close at the Cort Theater Jan. 14. Nelle Nugent leads a producing team that also includes Steve Traxler, Kenneth Teaton, Benjamin Feldman,
Doug Morris, In Fine Company, Jim Kierstead, Hunter Arnold, Spencer Ross and Jam Theatricals in association with Alix L. Ritchie, Kades-Reese, Storyboard Entertainment, and Jeffrey Sosnick.