During the very early stages of his career, Woody Allen had massive success as a playwright. His ‘Don’t Drink the Water’ was a hit, while ‘Play It Again, Sam’ became a benchmark in his creative development. After going into film, his theatrical work suffered. His 1981 play ‘The Floating Light Bulb’ lasted only 62 performances while other one-act works stayed decidedly Off-Broadway. Then came the announcement that Allen was crafting his 1994 comedy ‘Bullets Over Broadway‘ into a musical. Borrowing songs from the heyday of Tin Pan Alley and starring Zach Braff, Marin Mazzie, and Nick Cordero, it was hailed as a guaranteed Great White Way fixture, thanks in part to its pedigree and also because of who was in charge of the production – choreographer/ director Susan Stroman (‘The Producers’).
Well, said accolades appear to have been a tad…premature? According to The Hollywood Reporter, producers of the $14 million show are shutting it down come August 24, after 156 regular performances. By comparison, Mel Brooks’ revamp of his 1968 comic masterpiece played for an amazing 2502 (the reigning champ is ‘Phantom of the Opera,’ still going strong after 26 years and 11015 shows). While ‘Bullets’ has grossed nearly $15 million since opening, backers are claiming they will lose almost all of their initial investment with the decision. Some are blaming last month’s Tony Awards, where it failed to earn an all important “Best Musical” nod. Reviews were also decidedly mixed.
There are also those who cite the current trend toward adapting films into stage works – and the relative lack of success of same – as a possible culprit. This year alone, three other sure fire shows – ‘Big Fish,’ ‘Rocky,’ and ‘The Bridges of Madison County’ all closed after short runs. For their parts, the producers are putting a brave face on the announcement. “We are tremendously proud of this show and every single person involved with it. It has been a true pleasure, and we know that ‘Bullets Over Broadway‘ will have a long life in future productions to come,” said Letty Aronson and Julian Schlossberg. Well, at least it bested ‘Bulb’ in the Allen archive.
Source: The Hollywood Reporter