Wednesday, October 27, 2010

In The Heights Out In Depths Of Winter

In The Heights Out In Depths Of Winter

This morning, it was announced that Lin-Manuel Miranda's In The Heights would close January 9, 2011, after 1,185 regular performances on Broadway. In tandem with the closing notice, it was also announced that Miranda will return to the role of Usnavi on December 25 for the last two weeks of performances.

While the Tony-winning Best Musical of 2008 has been hovering in the 60-plus percent capacity range over the last month, a story posted yesterday by The New York Times' Patrick Healy underscored the ongoing challenges In The Heights and a handful of other shows face:
Most plays need to earn 40 percent to 45 percent of their maximum possible gross to cover weekly running costs....
Other musicals that were under the 55 percent threshold last week were two shows that opened last spring, American Idiot (at a modest 39 percent) and Million Dollar Quartet (47 percent), as well as long-running hits Chicago, In the Heights, Mary Poppins, Next to Normal and West Side Story (which previously posted a closing notice for January 2).
I can't help but wonder how many of the other shows on Healy's list will post their closing notices in the weeks to come. Currently, 15 Broadway shows are scheduled to close during the month of January 2011. Although to be fair, 10 of them were only originally slated as limited runs. 

This year, In The Heights resorted to stuntcasting, first with Corbin Bleu of "High School Musical" fame taking on the role of Usnavi, and more recently with "American Idol" winner Jordin Sparks joining the cast as Nina. Unfortunately, Sparks' addition hardly ignited any additional box office for the show, and she's currently set to depart the production on November 14.

Personally, I admired and certainly liked In The Heights when I saw it in April 2008, but didn't think it rose to the lofty heights of a Broadway musical. I wrote:
While Miranda & Co. deserve enormous credit for wearing their ginormous hearts on their sleeves, pants legs and virtually everything else in sight including via an impressive 11 o'clock graffiti-cum-work-of-art, I discovered even I'm capable of finding a mushy musical just a tad too treacly.

Despite the promise of something new, including Miranda's hotter than salsa hip-hop funk, In The Heights never quite soars, even with the ebullient energy infused through Andy Blankenbuehler's joyous choreography. Instead, it's a hackneyed pastiche of storytelling we've seen too many times before.
On the plus side -- and it is a huge plus -- is that In The Heights provides a significant and positive yet all too rare depiction of a slice of our Hispanic community on stage. In that respect, it remains a solid winner.

In addition to opportunities to see the show on Broadway through January 9, a touring production is winding its way through the United States and Puerto Rico through April 2011 (its next stop is Sacramento in early November). 

This is Steve On Broadway (SOB).
In keeping with the new Federal Trade Commission (FTC) regulations that unfairly discriminate against bloggers, who are now required by law to disclose when they have received anything of value they might write about, please note that I have received nothing of value in exchange for this post.

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At 28 October, 2010, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Although only breaking even at this point, the Holiday season should be very profitable as the show then closes. One of the most successful shows to open the past three years "Heights" recouped its entire investment in 10 months after 337 performances and has been minting $$ ever since.


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