One more struggling production has ended its journey to Broadway after failing to raise the necessary funds.
Last week, the producers of “Rebecca,” which was to begin previews on March 27, postponed the entire production until next season because they were unable to raise the $12 million in needed capitalization.
At a cost of $13 million, “Rebecca,” based on Daphne du Maurier’s gothic novel of the same name, was known to be among the most expensive shows to be put on this season. Though the majority of funds were in place, producers could not raise the remaining 20 percent of the show’s budget in time to proceed with the season.
The new production was scheduled to open at the Broadhurst Theatre on April 22.
Producers blamed a poor economic climate for their failure to procure the necessary funds.
The aborted run for “Rebecca” comes just months after another production collapsed under funding problems long before its scheduled Broadway launch. In November of 2011, producer Bob Boyett announced the scrapping of a revival of “Funny Girl.” The revival of this 1960s Broadway hit that launched the career of Barbra Streisand was cancelled after four investors pulled out of the proposed $12 million production. Each of the four backers were expected to contribute between $750,000 and $1 million each to the production.
The 2011 Los Angeles tryouts for the “Funny Girl” revival, this time starring “Six Feet Under” actress Lauren Ambrose, were indefinitely postponed, and its spring opening in Broadway’s Imperial Theater cancelled.
Boyett had been hopeful that the show would have turned a profit within a year of opening, but investors had a less optimistic view of the production’s chances in the current economic climate, particularly in a season chock full of classic Broadway revivals such as Godspell and Evita.
A previously announced Broadway-bound show canceling its run before previews is rare, and two within months of each other is all but unheard of. On November’s demise of “Funny Girl,” Philip J. Smith, chairman of the Shubert Organization (which owns the Imperial) told the New York Times, “Financing Broadway productions is no doubt challenging in this economy, but overall, most investors have been standing by shows and our theaters are pretty much booked up with productions.”
So what happened with these two shows? While the Great White Way has dealt with recession fallout for years, it could be that the economic downturn has finally impacted investors’ confidence enough to alter the way they make and keep promises about backing shows. Or it could be that the competition for audiences in this particular season just seemed too great to gamble on two vehicles with uncertain futures.
The 2011-2012 season has certainly seen its share of casualties from low audience turnout, including “Bonnie & Clyde,” which ended on December 30, 2011, “Lysistrata Jones,” which closed on January 8, and Harry Connick Jr.’s “On a Clear Day You Can See Forever,” scheduled to close on January 29.
Dramas have also not been immune to the sting of unfilled seats, with both “Chinglish” and the revival of Noel Coward’s “Private Lives”, starring Kim Cattrall and Canadian icon Paul Gross, bringing down the final curtain sooner than expected.