It was announced today that the Broadway production of The Woman in White will have its final performance at the Marquis Theatre on Sunday, February 19, 2006 at 3pm. At the time of its closing, the musical will have played 109 regular performances and 20 previews.
Directed by Trevor Nunn, the show features music by Andrew Lloyd Webber, lyrics by David Zippel, and a book by Charlotte Jones, based on the Victorian thriller by Wilkie Collins. “We are enormously proud to have produced The Woman in White on Broadway,” stated producer Bob Boyett, who praised Lloyd Webber’s score and the production’s design elements. “Unfortunately, early in previews, the show experienced a number of medical problems among the cast,” Boyett’s statement continued. “Maria Friedman performed admirably through a diagnosis of breast cancer and its treatment, and Michael Ball battled a serious viral infection. As a result of these and other health issues among the company, audiences got to see the entire original cast perform just 31 of the 108 performances played to date since the show’s first preview.”
Lloyd Webber added, “There have been performances when two or more leads have been absent due to illness. I’m not sure even The Phantom of the Opera could have survived the illnesses which have beset this wonderful company.” Although it had been announced that Friedman would take a medical leave of absence beginning February 12, she is now scheduled to continue in the role of Marian Halcombe through the final performance on the 19th.
Neither Lloyd Webber nor Boyett acknowledged that the show’s demise may have more to do with the largely negative notices it received than with the health issues of the cast. In his review of the production for TheaterMania, David Finkle wrote: “In Collins’s capable and cagey hands, the narrative — which is told by a number of possibly unreliable witnesses — is irresistible….Perhaps its greatest attraction to modern readers is Marian, whom Collins depicts as an intelligent and perceptive woman….Book writer Jones…doesn’t hew to Collins’s brainy Marian. Instead, she substitutes a cheerful girl-about-the-manor-house….Marian’s high I.Q. may not have seemed the right stuff for this tuner, but that aspect of the book isn’t all that’s been lost…Left for audiences to grapple with is a tepid watering-down of the plot, and Lloyd Webber’s music does little or nothing to elevate the proceedings.”
In addition to Friedman and Ball, The Woman in White stars Angela Christian, Adam Brazier, Jill Paice, Ron Bohmer, and Walter Charles. The show is produced by Boyett Ostar Productions, Nederlander Presentations Inc., Sonia Friedman Productions Ltd., The Really Useful White Company, Inc., Lawrence Horowitz/Jon Avnet, Ralph Guild/Bill Rollnick, Live Nation/PIA, and Thomas L. Miller.