The producers of “To Kill a Mockingbird,” a hit play that had been packing in audiences before the pandemic, announced Wednesday that they would shut down the show until June, lay off the cast and crew, downsize the production and then reopen in a smaller theater.
At the same time, “Girl From the North Country,” a heart-tugging musical that uses the songs of Bob Dylan to consider the Depression-era plight of a group of down-on-their-luck Midwesterners in the town where Dylan was born, said it would end its Broadway run on Jan. 23, and would try to reopen in another theater this spring.
They are the eighth and seventh Broadway shows that have announced permanent or temporary closing dates. This was after the Omicron variant sent coronavirus infections soaring in New York City. Their plans for short-term layoffs follow an example set by the musical “Mrs. Doubtfire,” which recently said it would close for nine weeks.
The “Mockingbird” move is dramatic, especially for a show that had been playing to capacity crowds before the pandemic. The show had been considering whether moving to a smaller theater would make it more viable for a long-term running. It made the right decision now to avoid a period of low attendance on Broadway, which is expected to continue due to the Omicron surge.
“Mockingbird” plans to end its current run on Sunday and resume performances June 1 in the theater where “Girl” has been playing. “Mockingbird,” one of the rare nonmusical productions to realistically anticipate a long stay on Broadway, has been playing since late 2018 at the Shubert Theater, which has 1,435 seats. It plans to move to the Belasco Theater, where “Girl” has been running, and which has about 1,000 seats.
“Mockingbird,” of course, is adapted from the novel by Harper Lee, which is one of the most popular in American history — just last month, New York Times readers chose it as the best book of the last 125 years. The play, written by Aaron Sorkin and selling well, is expected to expand. In March, a North American tour will begin and a London production will follow.
“Mockingbird,” which has long since recouped its $7.5 million capitalization costs, originally had Scott Rudin as its lead producer, but he stepped back from active producing after accusations of bullying, and the production is now overseen on a day-to-day basis by Orin Wolf Barry Diller was the executive producer, and I was the lead producer.
The original cast featured Jeff Daniels playing Atticus Finch. After the Broadway shutdown, he returned to the cast and Greg Kinnear plays the character. He is expected back when the show resumes.
“Girl From the North Country” has had a tough run on Broadway: It opened on March 5, 2020, just a week before the coronavirus pandemic forced all theaters to close. And then it was deemed ineligible to compete for that season’s Tony Awards, because too few voters had managed to see it before the industry shut down (it is eligible to compete this season).
The musical, with a book by the Irish playwright Conor McPherson, resumed performances Oct. 13, 2021, but, with its dark tone and small scale, never really found its footing, despite strong prepandemic reviews in outlets including The New York Times, in which critic Ben Brantley called the show “profoundly beautiful.”
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McPherson directed the musical. It began its life at the Old Vic in London in 2017. The musical then went on to an Off Broadway run at the Public Theater in 2018. Before moving to Broadway, McPherson was also the director. A production is currently running in Australia.
Tristan Baker, Charlie Parsons and Runaway Entertainment, a London-based production firm, are the show’s lead producers. According to a filing to the Securities and Exchange Commission, the show was capitalized for up to 9 million; that money has not yet been recouped.
Source: NY Times