Wowsa…the Denis O’hare and Brendan Frasier play “Elling” is playing it’s last performance tonight after having only played 9 performances. That’s a considerably short run. The producers’ decision to close the show probably came after the almost unanimously bad reviews.
Haven’t seen the show myself, but it definitely irks me as a writer to think that critics have so much bearing on the life of a play. Is there any other industry where bad reviews have so much power?
On any given night, somewhere around 65% of the audience of a broadway show is made up of tourists to NYC. If tourists are going to pay $126.50 to see a broadway show, they want to make sure they’re paying for something they’re going to like.
So how do most tourists decide what show to see? Along with reviews there are: 1) headliners/stars in the show, 2) commercial draw of the show, or 3) recognizable title/property (The Addams Family, The Lion King, etc.). If people don’t know anything about a show, chances are they’re going take the critic’s word for it.
With Elling, I heard absolutely nothing about this show during or before it’s arrival on broadway…and when you hear absolutely nothing about a show and you work in the theater industry, that’s usually not a good sign. Though I imagine no talk about a show is definitely better than bad buzz…
But it got me thinking…what are some other notoriously short broadway runs in recent history?
1) Enron – played 9 performances
2) Story of My Life – played 5 performances
3) Brighton Beach Memoirs – the recent revival played 9 performances
4) The Oldest Confederate Widow Tells All – played 1 performance
5) Glorydays – played 1 performance
The last two are somewhat infamous because they essentially opened on the same night that they closed.