11 Broadway Shows Are Closing This Month
The January massacre of 2020 will leave a quarter of Broadway's theaters dark.
Every year, multiple Broadway shows shutter shortly after the New Year. Many of these shows are seasonal (like A Christmas Carol) or were always intended to play limited runs (like Derren Brown: Secret). Producers of long-running shows (like Waitress) sometimes feel the icy chill of winter (with its depressed tourist trade) and decide to pack things up. This January, 11 productions will call it quits, a number that represents a quarter of Broadway's 41 theaters.
This story of the week will look back on each of those shows and let you know the last date you can see them. We're sad to see them go, but don't expect Broadway to remain dark for long: Three new plays will open this month, and the much-anticipated revival of West Side Story is well into its long preview period. There's going to be plenty to see this winter, but this is your last chance to see these 11 titles:
January 4: Derren Brown: Secret
Since September, the UK-based mentalist has wowed Broadway audiences with his ability to read minds. Of course, Brown is the first to admit that this feat is accomplished through the power of suggestion and the well-placed lie. Such "transparency" only makes us trust him more, drawing us deeper into his web. In addition to being hugely entertaining, Brown offers a shrewd commentary about how even a society with huge amounts of information at its fingertips can be conned.
January 5: Waitress
With a score by Sara Bareilles, Waitress has become one of the most popular musicals of the decade, and a must-have cast recording for any serious Broadway fan. (Who among us has not wailed to "She Used to Be Mine" when no one was listening?) It opened in 2016 and while it didn't win a single Tony Award that year, it will close in 2020 having played 1,543 regular performance and 33 previews, outlasting all of its co-nominees for Best Musical that year except the winner in that category: Hamilton.
January 5: Tootsie
This one is disappointing. While Tootsie did win two Tony Awards (for Robert Horn's hilarious book and Santino Fontana's performance), that didn't convince enough people to plunk down money at the box office. Most of its $20 million capitalization will be written off as a loss. I loved the show, but Mrs. Doubtfire is on the way and Broadway has room for only one straight-dude-does-drag show. Which one would you have chosen?
January 5: The Illusionists — Magic of the Holidays
This annual magic show has been a staple of the Broadway holiday calendar for the last six years. I fully expect it to return next year, with some new acts drawn from popular reality TV competitions. Reality TV: It's the new vaudeville.
January 5: The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical
This musical adaptation of the fantasy novels by Rick Riordan went on national tour in 2019, culminating in this limited Broadway run. While I enjoyed the 2017 off-Broadway incarnation better, I understand why Percy Jackson fans are so passionate about this show; and I suspect that once it is available for stock and amateur productions, the license will become one of the most popular in America.
January 5: A Christmas Carol
Apologies to our Eastern Orthodox readers, but Christmas is over and soon this show will be too. But Jack Thorne's new adaptation of the Dickens classic did healthy box office during its limited run, enough so that I wouldn't be surprised if it returns for Christmas future.
January 5: Slava's Snowshow
The strangest of Broadway's holiday offerings, this sad Russian clown show will also end its run on Sunday. I enjoyed it, in a way; and it definitely features some of the best physical actors on Broadway. It was last in New York 11 years ago, so maybe we'll see a return engagement in 2031.
January 12: The Sound Inside
Told largely in narration, Adam Rapp's drama about a creative writing professor and her troubled student feels like one of those plays that are better to read than watch. And that would have been the case with the Broadway production were it not for David Cromer's shadowy staging (with set pieces materializing out of nowhere) and Mary-Louise Parker's distinctive voice guiding us through the darkness. See it before it makes way for the forthcoming revival of Caroline, or Change.
January 12: Freestyle Love Supreme
Broadway's favorite (and only) improv comedy show will play its final performance on Sunday the 12th. In addition to its unique format (every performance has new hip-hop songs based on audience suggestions, and a rotating cast of guest stars), the show has the most unconventional performance schedule on Broadway, with 10pm shows on Friday and Saturday — perfect for a Broadway nightcap.
January 19: Oklahoma!
This was my favorite musical of 2019. Even though it is a revival of the 1943 Rodgers and Hammerstein classic that ushered in the Golden Age of Broadway, Daniel Fish's dark staging makes it feel like an entirely new show. I saw it twice and made new discoveries in each viewing, proving that truly great American musicals are as fertile as anything Shakespeare wrote. More revivals like this, please!
January 19: Slave Play
Playwright Jeremy O. Harris made a huge splash with this Broadway debut drama about a highly unorthodox and racially charged form of group therapy. We're going to be seeing a lot more of Harris in the coming years (most immediately at Playwrights Horizons, where his new show premieres in May). More than being an exciting first effort, Slave Play throws down the gauntlet for provocative drama in the roaring '20s.