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Urban Cowboy, Underfinanced and Unloved, to Close After Four Performances logo

Matt Cavenaugh (foreground) in Urban Cowboy
(Photo: © Paul Kolnik)
The new Broadway musical Urban Cowboy will close at the Broadhurst Theatre following the evening performance of Saturday, March 29, two days after its official opening.

At the time of its demise, the show will have played 26 previews and four regular performances. Such a swift closing is almost unheard of nowadays, given that most Broadway musicals are budgeted at a level that allows for a run of at least a few weeks after opening, regardless of the critical reception. The problem in Urban Cowboy's case is that the show was reportedly underfinanced from the beginning and had amassed almost no advance ticket sales. Under the circumstances, the almost universally negative notices it received proved fatal.

Based on the 1980 film of the same title that starred John Travolta and Debra Winger, which was in turn based on an Esquire magazine piece by Aaron Latham, Urban Cowboy has a book by Latham and the late Phillip Oesterman that concerns the coming of age of a callow, mechanical bull-riding Texas youth. Its score includes "Lookin' for Love in all the Wrong Places," "The Devil Went Down To Georgia," and other familiar country songs, plus new numbers penned by such writers as Jeff Blumenkrantz, Bob Stillman, and the show's musical director/conductor, Jason Robert Brown. Directed by Lonny Price and choreographed by Melinda Roy, Urban Cowboy stars Matt Cavenaugh as Bud and Jenn Colella as Sissy, with Leo Burmester, Sally Mayes, Jodi Stevens, Marcus Chait, and Rozz Morehead in prominent supporting roles.

In his review of the show for TheaterMania, David Finkle wrote: "When Aaron Latham wrote his Esquire piece, he was making a point about the New West, where definitions of masculinity have shifted and where nine-to-fivers try to prove their manhood by challenging a machine designed to move like a riled bull. Latham's intentions were journalistic, his attitude ironic. When he had to turn the article into a screenplay, he found himself up against certain dramatic demands. The task facing him and his collaborators in crafting a stage musical of Urban Cowboy has been tricky, and not completely unlike having to climb on a bucking bull themselves. The right-ugly outcome is that they've been thrown."

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