Two of Broadway’s current limited engagements with A-list casts have just become a bit more limited. Both the David Mamet comedy “A Life in the Theatre” and the David Hirson satire “La Bête” will shave five weeks from their production schedules.
Directed by Neil Pepe at Gerald Shoenfeld Theatre, “A Life” was originally set to close January 2, but will instead shutter November 28. The two-man cast is composed of Patrick Stewart and T.R. Knight (of “Grey’s Anatomy” fame), but their star power failed to translate into ticket sales at the box office.
The Mamet production began a three-week stretch of previews on September 21, during which time the show was playing to audiences of 68 to 77 percent capacity and drawing weekly grosses of more than $300,000.
But after it received mixed reviews on opening night, “A Life” saw a marked decline at the box office. Audiences at the 1,071-seat playhouse have been well below 40 percent capacity for three consecutive weeks now. Its grosses have struggled similarly to remain above the $200,000 mark since its October 12 opening.
Meanwhile, the run for “La Bête” will shutter January 9 instead of playing through its original February 12 end-date. But for producers of the show, directed by Matthew Warchus at the Music Box Theatre, the cut is more of a strategic move than a forced shuttering.
“‘La Bête’ was always planned as a limited run on Broadway, and we’ve now decided to end a 16-week engagement on Jan. 9, 2011, so as to avoid the historically challenging weeks that follow,” the producers said in a prepared statement this week. “We know the next eight weeks will be as enjoyable and exciting as our first eight weeks.”
Three weeks of previews began September 23 for the revival that stars David Hyde Pierce, Mark Rylance (as the titular character), and Joanna Lumley. During that time, audiences at the 1,007-seat theatre were regularly around 88 percent capacity.
Since “La Bête” opened October 14, audiences at the Music Box have declined notably, but have not yet fallen below 50 percent capacity. With just a couple exceptions — the weeks of October 31 and November 7 — the comedy has drawn weekly grosses over $300,000.
“A Life” played 24 previews and 40 performances through the week ending November 14, with a total gross just over $2.1 million. “La Bête,” on the other hand, completed 24 previews and 37 performances through the same reporting week, for a total gross just under $2.4 million.
Broadway box office data provided by the Broadway League.