Thursday, March 20, 2008

The curtain falls

I really didn't see this one coming. Curtains, the first musical I saw on Broadway, is closing June 29 after what will be a 16-month run at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre.

The last time I looked, the show was playing at 75 percent capacity, with an average ticket price of $65, which seems like a perfectly respectable number to me, especially since we're at the tail end of winter. And attendance is up 13 percent over the previous week. According to Variety, the show hasn't recouped its initial investment, so I guess that's probably a big part of it.

Yes, I know shows close all the time, but this one, like The Color Purple, is hitting me especially hard. Curtains plays a big role in what I wrote yesterday about the value of theatre. But it's also special to me for a few other reasons.

First of all, I saw it at the end of a wonderful day in New York City, in which I walked all the way from Macy's at Herald Square up to the Museum of Natural History, crossed Central Park, made my way down Fifth Avenue, visited the Top of the Rock, and had a delicious meal at The Blue Fin. And did I mention how friendly and helpful New Yorkers are?

You'd think I would have been pretty wiped out by 8 o'clock and in no shape to see a show, but I loved Curtains. The cast was terrific, especially David Hyde Pierce as the Boston detective sent to investigate a backstage murder and Debra Monk as the show's brassy producer. I loved the humor, the murder mystery plot and the dance numbers, especially the duet between Hyde Pierce and Jill Paice. The final scene is hilarious. And I'm constantly listening to the cast CD. It gives you a great taste for the show. I had a great time and thoroughly enjoyed it.

Meeting the cast afterward and getting my picture taken with David Hyde Pierce just made it perfect. When I told everyone that I'd seen my first play on Broadway the night before, and Curtains was my first musical, they were beyond nice. Mr. Hyde Pierce especially won my heart when he asked me what play I'd seen the night before and whether I liked it. He was terrific when I ran back and asked for a picture. He is a great performer and a great gentleman.

While I'd love to see it again, in a way I'm glad I probably won't have a chance. I want to remember Curtains just the way it was the first and only time I saw it.

Way back in December 2006 (which seems like a very long time ago!) when my new friend, Steve on Broadway, was helping me plan my first trip to Broadway, I asked his advice on a musical to see. I'd never heard of Curtains, but Steve told me that he'd seen it in Los Angeles and it was fantastic, "everything a Broadway musical should be." And he was right.

But little did I know that seeing the show, on April 13, 2007, wasn't going to be the end. There was the thrill of David Hyde Pierce winning the Tony for best actor in a musical that June. I was so happy I jumped up from the couch and cheered!

Then, in July, I got a package from Steve. Even though he wasn't seeing Curtains, on a trip to New York he stopped by the stage door and had the entire cast sign a souvenir program. It came with a personal hello from David Hyde Pierce! A few weeks later I met Steve for the first time, and he brought me two gifts: an opening night Playbill from the show we were seeing that evening, The Color Purple, and a program from the 2006 premiere of Curtains.

In addition to being incredibly entertaining, and having a gracious and talented cast, Curtains is a memorable show for me because of a wonderful friend and brother who helped make it even more special.


Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

Esther, It's a bittersweet moment for me as well. And as for that program, everyone in the cast was so gracious in signing it, especially after I told them it had been your very first Broadway show.

Let's make a pact right now to see the revival together! even though we may need to wait 20 years, it will happen!

Esther said...

Ok, you're on! Or maybe we can see it on tour in Boston - at the Colonial Theatre, hopefully!

I'm so glad I got to see this show with its original Broadway cast. I can't say enough how much I enjoyed each and every one of their performances. They're definitely actors I'll be looking forward to seeing on stage again.

While all actors are pretty nice at the stage door, they were exceptional. You could tell they like each other, they liked the show they were in, and they were having a great time. They're a wonderful ensemble, and it's a wonderful show.

SarahB said...

Unfortunately, it's not an average of $65 a ticket with that percentage of capacity - it doesn't account for all of the comps, papered and discounted tickets. I'm not surprised its closing. It's a fun show, but something that's classic can't really compete with pop musicals that draw tourists, which unfortunately in my opinion, are the bread and butter of Broadway.

Esther said...

Sarah, what's a papered ticket? I've heard that term before.

I really enjoy pop-oriented musicals myself, but I enjoy other kinds, too, and this was such a great opportunity to see a fun show with its original cast. I wish it had gotten more of a tourist buzz. Now I wish I'd written about it more often!

ShowPerson said...

Hey guys - I agree with you, it's sooo sad Curtains is closing. I saw it back in Feb and loved it!

If you're DHP fans then come along to the DHP Forum. Friendly and fun.

You might also wanna check out - our fansite that has, amongst other things, an in-depth review of Curtains