Just recently two of my current favourite Broadway shows posted their closing notices: Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812 and Bandstand. In all honesty, I’m not particularly surprised by either (more so Great Comet) but both are very disappointing to me. (I know I just talked about both of these shows recently in my post about my last trip to New York City but both are very special to me and felt they deserved talking about again in their new circumstances.)
With the recent controversy surrounding Great Comet and the lack of any proceeding casting announcements (until announcing the closing and that Dave Malloy would be back), and with Dave Malloy tweeting that the show was in trouble, it seemed, unfortunately, inevitable that Great Comet would close. I had still held out hope that something could save it, but no such luck. It is disappointing that it is closing in such a way and just how everything went down with it. It’s such a unique show with an extremely talented cast. It’s sad that the ticket sales weren’t there without a big star attached. It’s definitely good enough to hold its own without one. I’m also disappointed that I won’t now get the chance to see Great Comet from the orchestra or stage seats. Not that is was actually likely to happen before but now there’s really no chance of it. It’s also sad knowing that I will never get one of the letters from the actors that are handed out during “Letters.”
A lot has already been said about the Great Comet controversy and I’m not sure there’s really much I can add to the conversation. It’s just very a shame how everything worked out. I do think it might have been helpful (for lack of a better word) to have mentioned that the show was that much in trouble when they were releasing statements and why they were happening that way (why Mandy’s run in the show was cutting Oak’s run short). I suppose I can understand why they wouldn’t necessarily want to put that out there initially but I do think it would have helped with the public’s understanding of what was happening and why. But I also understand that there’s a lot more to it all, on all sides, than just that, that it’s a complicated situation, and also that we (the public) will never really know the whole story of how things played out.
With Bandstand I didn’t really see the closing notice coming and hoped that it would run a very long time, but it never really seemed to take off (like it should have!!!). I don’t think I ever saw anything negative about it. And I know they’ve also been getting a lot of recognition for all they’ve been doing working with veterans and portraying the lives of veterans and the sorts of things they go through. It too has an extremely talented cast, with a lot of them playing their instruments on stage too!
I had hoped that both Great Comet and Bandstand would have long lives on Broadway. I think they both bring a lot to the theatre world. Great Comet brings its unique style of storytelling and music and its use of space and all around design (there isn’t really anything traditional about it). Bandstand brings its brand new, original story (something we don’t always see a lot of) and it’s beautiful use of music and dance as part of its storytelling.
There’s always something a bit sad about a Broadway closing. There are the limited run shows that are only meant to last a short time; there are the runs that are cut short; the open-ended runs that end suddenly, or not so suddenly and have just run their course; and sometimes there are the shows that close before they even open (Nerds comes to mind as a recent example of this last one). Whether it is planned or not it is a sad thing when it comes to an end. I know I’ve been emotional when a show I’ve been working on comes to an end, and they always have set runs).
This is also one of those times when it’s annoying to not live in or near New York- I can’t just go see these shows again before they close. I just have to see them close from afar, and just be happy that I got to see them at all. At least they will live on through their cast recordings, which I have been listening to a lot lately.
The one silver lining to Broadway shows closing is the opportunity for new shows to open bringing new stories and songs (if it’s a musical) for us to fall in love with. Really, when you think about it, on show’s closing is another show’s opening. But that doesn’t take away from or replace the sadness that comes when a show you love is closing.
So to Great Comet and Bandstand (and now to Groundhog Day too, even though I didn’t get a chance to see that one), and everyone involved in these shows, all the best in your last few weeks and thank you for bringing these stories to the stage!