T.R. Knight, Brendan Fraser, Patrick Stewart, David Hyde Pierce and Mark Rylance are among the high-profile actors whose Broadway season has ended rather abruptly.
Those are the early casualties after poor box-office results, weak reviews or a combination of both shortened the runs of the plays “Elling,” '‘La Bete” and “A Life in the Theatre.”
The fastest failure was “Elling,” a play about two recently released mental patients in Norway that marked Fraser’s Broadway debut. It opened last Sunday and had hoped to run until March, but will now will close on Sunday after just 22 previews and nine regular performances.
Co-starring Tony Award-winner Denis O’Hare, who was largely praised for his performance, “Elling” was widely considered to be too intimate a play for a big Broadway theater. It made only about $145,000 during eight performances last week, well short of its $882,000 potential.
“What a world what a world,” O’Hare tweeted after the Thanksgiving Day parade in New York. “Got to be on CBS for the parade and oh, they are shutting down the play. One door shut, another window opens.”
The revival of “La Bete,” starring Rylance, Joanna Lumley and Pierce, as well as David Mamet’s “A Life in the Theatre,” with Stewart and Knight, have also not done well financially this season on Broadway.
“Life” will close Sunday, well short of its original Jan. 2 intended end. The Neil Pepe-directed play, which focuses on the relationship between two thespians over the course of several dozen small scenes, was considered well acted but too light and insubstantial a work.
And “La Bete” will close Jan. 9 after struggling through about 100 regular performances, despite critical acclaim for Tony winner Rylance and his astonishing 20-minute soliloquy in Act 1. The revival will have lasted only a little longer than the 25 performances it played on Broadway when it first debuted in 1991.
The theaters for “La Bete” and “Life” were both less than half-filled last week.