Disney, which has been quick to drop the axe on its Broadway flops, including Tarzan and The Little Mermaid, announced today that its accidental hit, Newsies, will close on August 24 at the Nederlander Theatre, while still earning respectable money at the box office after a run of more than two years and grosses of over $100 million.
Based on Disney’s 1992 film — a $42.8 million box-office dud whose video built a cult following — Newsies opened in the fall of 2011 at New Jersey’s Paper Mill Playhouse, where it was planned as a dry-run for a regional tour. But a new book by Harvey Fierstein (La Cage Aux Folles, Kinky Boots) and songs from Alan Menken and Jack Feldman, along with an upbeat, high-energy production staged by director Jeff Calhoun and choreographer Christopher Gatelli impressed the New York critics, compelling Disney Theatricals chief Thomas Schumacher to change course and head for Broadway. The show, which cost about $5 million, opened the following May and won Tonys for score and choreography.
Since then, however, the Nederander box office has weakened incrementally as several other family-friendly shows came in and amped up the competition for dollars from the Disney demo, notably that company’s own Aladdin along, of course, with the now-and-forever blockbuster Lion King.
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