Another one bites the dust. No sooner had Ragtime posted its closing notice than Finian's Rainbow almost immediately followed suit. The show will end its run at the St. James Theater on January 17th, having played 92 regular performances and 22 previews. With a run that short, it's very unlikely that the show was able to make back its investment.
I must confess that, as big a fan as I am of Ragtime, I'm just a bit sadder to see Finian's Rainbow shutter. I wasn't all that taken with the show during its Encores run at City Center (read my review). As is often the case with Encores shows, the book was significantly truncated, which had a deleterious effect on my enjoyment of the show.
But when I saw the show on Broadway (read my review), I was captivated by its many charms, including the sensational score by Burton Lane and E.Y. "Yip" Harburg, and a dynamite cast, headed by the dazzling Kate Baldwin, the sexy Cheyenne Jackson, as well as Jim Norton and Christopher Fitzgerald in delightful supporting roles. Director/choreographer Warren Carlyle whipped the production up into a charming, frothy, good-time of a show, one that I found much more artistically satisfying than the current production of Ragtime. Sure, they're radically different shows, and the comparison is a bit unfair, but that's my gut response to their relative closure announcements.
The producers of Finian's Rainbow blame the show's demise on the "economic realities of Broadway today." Closure announcements are always full of bluster and grandstanding: no one ever comes out and says the truth. But as I see it, the producers made an unwise decision in bringing the show to Broadway. As much as I enjoyed this production, and hope to see it again before it closes, it just wasn't a show that the ticket-buying public was crying out to see, economic vicissitudes notwithstanding.
It's probably good that I don't have the money to invest in shows, because I'm pretty sure I'd be terrible at deciding which shows the public is going to respond to. If I had had the opportunity to invest in either Ragtime or Finian's Rainbow, I'd have backed Ragtime, no contest. Yeah, I know, that seems to contradict what I just said above about which production I enjoyed more. But here I'm talking about what my prospective take would have been on which production would have had the greater chance of success, before I had had a chance to see either. Because that's when producers write their checks: before the show goes up, not after it becomes a success. Of course, I would have lost it all no matter which show I had chosen. But I really thought that Ragtime had a chance, and I genuinely believe it didn't get a fair shake the first time around. Ergo, it's a good thing I'm not an investor.
I'm headed down to New York next weekend to see A Little Night Music and Ernest in Love. When Ragtime announced it was closing, I also grabbed a discount ticket to see the show again that weekend, to see if perhaps it had coalesced into a stronger production since I saw it early in previews. Perhaps I'll also have to get a ticket to Finian's Rainbow to see if the brimming effervescence remains.