A Best Actor in a Musical Tony for John Lithgow hasn't saved Sweet Smell of Success: the tuner about a megalomaniacal 1950s gossip columnist will close on June 15 after 108 regular performances.
Despite the return to Broadway of TV and movie star Lithgow and a creative team consisting of composer Marvin Hamlisch, lyricist Craig Carnelia, and librettist John Guare, Sweet Smell had most critics holding their noses when it opened on March 14 at the Martin Beck. In his TheaterMania review, David Finkle wrote that the show exuded "the sour smell of excess" and that the collaboration of the various creators "somehow brought out their collective mediocre-to-worst qualities."
TheaterMania columnist Peter Filichia has expressed much more positive feelings about the show, but he is the exception. This fact was duly noted by the Sweet Smell producers in a pre-Tony letter campaign designed to win a vote or two for the beleaguered musical: "We are eager for your consideration," they wrote in part, "because we, as producers, find ourselves in a place where many of you have been in your theatrical careers--on the wrong side of the press that covers our community." Lithgow himself had a word or two on the subject after picking up his Tony on Sunday night, as reported by Filichia yesterday: "He was quite eloquent in praising his show without trashing the critics who'd trashed it, but did concede that he was hurt when people dismissed it. He added that just as many people have loved the show as have hated it and that his prize was not a vindication of the show, but a tribute to it."
Sweet Smell of Success is based on the well regarded 1957 film of the same title that starred Burt Lancaster and Tony Curtis. Lithgow's award was the show's only Tony nod; yesterday, the cast was informed that the end was nigh.