Broadway Says Goodbye- BE MORE CHILL, THE PROM, THE CHER SHOW & More Prepare for Final Bows
Six shows gIve their regards to Broadway later this month.
Since the beginning of summer 2019, Broadway has bid farewell to a whopping eleven productions. Some were pre-scheduled. limited runs; others long-running favorites; all equally missed. Before the end of August, six more will take their final bows.
Why the influx in summer closings? You can read more about the complexities behind the Broadway box office here. Instead, today, we're taking pause to look back on six diverse shows and the legacies they leave behind.
Be More Chill
Final Performance: August 11 at the Lyceum Theatre
Perhaps no other show this season leaves behind such a rabid following of fans as Be More Chill, which defied all odds in transferring off-Broadway last year (after a three year hiatus), and then again to Broadway in March. Where did the momentum come from? The Tony-nominated music of Joe Iconis.
Between the show's 2015 premiere at New Jersey's Two River Theatre and its off-Broadway debut last summer, the original cast album had turned the show into a bonafide pop culture phenomenon, picking up millions of streams per month. Young musical theatre-lovers connected with Jeremy Here and his quest for popularity in a major way, and their obsession with all things scheming Squips, zombie Shakespeare and bathroom soliloquies all started with the love of a cast recording.
"Obviously, I was sad to hear about closing, but the accomplishments of the show far outweigh the sad parts," says leading man, Will Roland. "I wish the show could run on Broadway for years, but I have no doubt that the show will continue to bring joy and inspiration to audiences for years to come through licensed productions, the film, and more!"
For those reasons, Be More Chill will more than survive August 11. Beyond upgrading the 2019 Broadway season with a cool, new sound, the show has inspired a whole new generation of theatre goers. "It's so exciting to feel like I'm living inside of theatre history every day," says Roland. "This show has rewritten the rules about how you can get a show to Broadway, and it's filled our theatre with passionate new audiences who will no doubt be lifelong lovers of American Musical Theatre."
Final Performance: August 11 at the Longacre Theatre
On November 15, 2018, a cast of liberal Democrats from Broadway belted their way into the hearts of audiences at the Longacre Theatre. The rest is history.
Since The Prom burst onto the scene last year, it's been breaking barriers and changing lives. Spreading a message of love and acceptance with every note, the show urges us all to love thy neighbor and to dance through life with a little bit a zazz.
The Prom earned seven Tony nominations earlier this year, including three for its leading actors- Brooks Ashmanskas, Beth Leavel, and Caitlin Kinnunnen- all of whom (as well as most of the rest of the company), have been involved in the development of the show for over seven years.
Courtenay Collins, who has played Mrs. Greene since the show's Atlanta tryout, admits that saying goodbye to her family at The Prom will be difficult. "I will miss every moment backstage - from walking into the theatre and greeting everyone on the way to my dressing room to greeting the fans at the stage door every night. I will miss how we all try to scare each other backstage. I will miss The Flarp. I will miss the way every one in our cast and crew makes me laugh so hard - especially since I have to carry such heavy emotions with me on stage. And I've had so many people from my life come see the show. Almost every night, I have friends or family backstage. Literally people from every walk of my life have come to see me in The Prom and I'm so grateful. I'll miss that. I'll miss my Prom Family most of all, though, it's been an absolute dream!"
But the legacy of The Prom will live on- not just in its upcoming national tour, young adult novel, and Netflix adaption, but in the hearts of the audiences it touched. "I hope The Prom will be remembered for giving the audience an uplifting and gratifying theatre experience," says Collins. "I'm so honored to have been a part of something that entertains people as only a Broadway Musical can, but that also makes people feel so many things. I have loved and appreciated every minute of this ride."
Final Performance: August 18 at the Broadway Theatre
When King Kong roared onto the scene last fall, Broadway was forever changed in a big way. In a very big way.
The classic story was brought to life on stage with a book by Jack Thorne, a score by Marius de Vries and songs by Eddie Perfect. King Kong. But it's the big guy himself who will go down in history as perhaps the most remarkable feat in puppetry that Broadway has ever seen.
Kong, 20 feet tall, 2,000 pounds, is the product of an extraordinary technical design, comprised of 1,000 feet of electrical cable and 16 microprocessors and is operated by a team of 13 highly-skilled puppeteers. The gargantuan puppet earned special praise for Sonny Tilders and Creature Technology Company, who were recognized in June with a Special Tony Award.
The king of jungle will reign beyond August 18. It was recently announced that King Kong will open in Shanghai in 2021. A North American tour, as well as productions in Japan and Spain, are in development.
The Cher Show
Final Performance: August 18 at the Neil Simon Theatre
If we could turn back time, we'd find a way to keep Cher on the Great White Way forever. The immortal, goddess, diva supreme found her story in the spotlight this Broadway season, and just one leading lady was hardly enough to capture the enduring fabulousness that is Cher.
Dozens of Cher's most iconic songs were coupled with a book by Rick Elice, that weaved her personal story of resilience with the highs and lows of her professional life. Teal Wicks, who plays Lady, explains: "[I've loved] finding the balance of Lady's super-confident sass and her open hearted vulnerability. Rick wrote some great zingers for me throughout the show which are blast to deliver with Cher's iconic dry sense of humor. And then he wrote some very honest emotional scenes that get to show a more raw and vulnerable side of this woman. I've loved trying to master that balancing act."
Micaela Diamond, who made her debut as Babe, looks back fondly on her first Broadway experience. "I will miss the daily reminder of how much our hard work changes people's lives. Even if it's just for an afternoon," Diamond says. "[I want the show to be remembered for] the female bad asses that led it. The joy that followed you around for the rest of the day. The sequins AND the story."
What does Wicks want the musical to be remembered for? "As a show that gave you a very fulfilling dose of female empowerment. It's a message that we need more and more of right now- the struggles of being a woman trying to make it in this world run by men, the strength of sisterhood between all us women, and not being afraid of being unapologetically uniquely you," says Wicks.
The beat indeed goes on, however. Get ready to see more of the Cher Show around the country when the National Tour launches in fall of 2020.
Final Performance: August 18 at the Nederlander Theatre
Vivian Ward will soon take her final strut down Hollywood Boulevard. But that's just on Broadway...
PRETTY WOMAN will soon launch three more companies beginning in September of this year, including in Hamburg, London, and a US national tour. Then, in October 2020, the first US National Tour will launch from the Providence Arts Center in Providence, R.I. The West End run of the show will also take to the stage in 2020 as well.
Samantha Barks, who made her Broadway debut in the iconic role, has nothing but sweet memories of her time in the show. "From the workshop through our run in Chicago to Broadway, it has been nearly 2 years getting to play this incredible role. I really am the luckiest..." she says.
What the Constitution Means to Me
Final Performance: August 24 at the Hayes Theatre
If there was a right time for a play about the rights afforded to us (or not) in the US constitution, it's today. If there was a right person to tell that story, it is Heidi Schreck.
Schreck's timely and galvanizing play, which was two-time Tony Award-nominated, a Pulitzer Prize Finalist, and an Obie Award-winner, was a sensation off Broadway even before it landed at the Hayes Theatre, and it will continue to inspire audiences for the foreseeable future.
Following its Broadway run, What the Constitution Means to Me will play a special encore engagement at the Kennedy Center's Eisenhower Theater in Washington, DC from September 11-22, featuring the Broadway cast. A national tour of the play, featuring a new cast, will launch at Center Theater Group's Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles in January 2020, with plans to play 40 weeks in 22 cities across the country.