Avenue Q, the scrappy little musical that broke the rules, will break them once again. With so many musicals these days making the transfer from Off-Broadway to the Great White Way, Avenue Q has decided to travel against the tide.
As you may know, Avenue Q played its last Broadway performance last night. Well, apparently, the producers made a closing-night announcement that the show will reopen Off-Broadway in October. Puppets and humans alike will take up residence at the New World Stages, long-time home of Altar Boyz, Naked Boys Singing, and now The Toxic Avenger Musical.
It's an unusual move, to say the least, but not entirely unprecedented. The little-known tuner Billy Bishop Goes to War made a similar Broadway-to-Off-Broadway transfer, albeit under far less auspicious circumstances. The show played the late and lamented Morosco Theatre for a scant 12 performances in 1980, then moved to the Lucille Lortel for another 78.
It is, nonetheless, a ballsy move on the part of Avenue Q's already gonad-laden producers. It makes me wonder whether the move was planned, or if the show's post-closing-announcement demand precipitated the thought of a crosstown transplant. The Off-Broadway move will certainly lower the show's running costs, as Off-Broadway houses have different and less expensive agreements with the various unions.
Will other musicals follow suit? It's certainly possible. Perhaps Spring Awakening or The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee might have benefited from a similar move. Both shows turned a profit, but perhaps the brand recognition from their Broadway runs could have propelled them into an even more profitable afterlife. Perhaps Next to Normal or Rock of Ages could move back to their Off-Broadway roots once their respective Broadway runs wind down.
We'll have to wait and see. Meanwhile, Avenue Q begins performances at the New World Stages on October 9th.