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Photograph: Matthew MurphyRocky

Rocky is down for the count—what Broadway shows may close next?

By David Cote

Summer can mean brisk business on Broadway: Tourists flood midtown seeking a great theatrical experience. But woe betide the show that hasn't gained box-office traction, due to bad reviews, lack of Tony Award love or poor marketing. This week we learned that two shows are closing in coming weeks. First, the Tupac Shakur-scored Holler If Ya Hear Me shutters on Sunday. Notices were mixed but attendance was lousy; last week they only filled 45 percent of the house. Yesterday, an even bigger property threw in the towel: Rocky announced an August 17 end date. Apparently boxing fans would rather see a real bout.

Not all the news is dire: A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder is having a smashing summer, with sold-out houses and a box-office take—$901,681 last week—that brings it tantalizingly close to the million-dollar club. 

Still, summer is long and fall brings a bunch of new shows, so you can bet producers are nervously eyeing advance sales. Looking into our somewhat cloudy crystal ball, we can speculate on who might be getting ready for final bow in January, if not sooner. To be clear: We don't know about any individual show's finances or advance sales, we're just going off box-office trends and instinct.

Bullets Over Broadway might be running out of ammunition. It's a harmless, frothy diversion, but there was no critical consensus as to whether smooth gangsters and sexy chorus girls deserved grumbles or chuckles. People seemed to expect more from Woody Allen and Susan Stroman. It played to 60 percent capacity last week (ouch) and took in $626,679 (not terrible, but borderline). The company may ride out the summer, but not survive long in the new year.

Cinderella's carriage could turn back into a pumpkin. The retooled version of Rodgers & Hammerstein's romantic fairy-tale has been running a year and a half and still hasn't recouped its $13 million investment. That worries us—especially since attendance has been under 70 percent for a while now. Perhaps there isn't an endless supply of little girls in princess dresses and tiaras? 

Once may be enough. If I had bet on the success of this small, melancholy tale of a singer-songwriter and his quirky muse, I would have lost money. But how long can such an understated piece run? It inspires fanatical devotion among repeat viewers, but last week the house was only 67 percent full and the take was $420,569. (It was grossing a million a week two years ago.) Still the Tony winner recouped its investment six months after opening, so no one is complaining.


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