Why do Broadway shows close?

It's one of the harsh, universal truths of theater: shows close. And sometimes much sooner than fans of the show would like. Frequently, when a show announces the date of its final performance, fans will decry the news on social media. “Oh, nooooooooo! Why is it closing? It's so good!”

There are a variety of reasons why a Broadway show might post a closing notice. It's mostly a business decision, but there are also the star's schedule and temperament to take into account, as well as the time of year, and the critical response to the show. Most closures fall into one of the following categories:

It’s a limited run - As a general rule, musicals these days tend to have open-ended runs, but plays tend to play limited engagements, often with the possibility of extension, should ticket sales support such an action. Also, Broadway has recently seen a larger number of seasonal shows -- holiday-themed productions that fill otherwise empty theaters from November to early January. Clearly, shows like Elf - The Musical and How the Grinch Stole Christmas have a limited shelf life, although both shows have made return trips in subsequent holiday seasons.

The star’s contract is up - Lately, just about the only way a straight play can make it to Broadway is when there are big-name stars involved.  And, while the prestige of appearing on Broadway holds a certain allure, big-name stars often have more lucrative offers awaiting them in Hollywood. (The upcoming season holds the promise of many such stars: See "Hollywood Stars on Broadway.") Musicals can be star-dependent, too, and sometimes, rather than attempting to replace the star, producers can decide to close the show. This happened recently with Ricky Martin in Evita. On the other hand, both Cabaret and Hedwig and the Angry Inch have had success attracting high-quality replacement stars: Emma Stone will follow Michelle Williams in the former, and Michael C. Hall will step into Andrew Rannells' and Neil Patrick Harris' platform shoes in the latter.

The show is losing money - A large majority of closures come simply because a show isn't selling enough tickets. Every Broadway production has a weekly "nut," or total operating expenses, and if a show isn't selling above that nut, it usually isn't very long for this world. Sometimes, producers might choose to keep a show running at a financial loss in the hope that the show might catch on and business might improve in the long run. This happened earlier this year with Holler If Ya Hear Me, to no avail. That's great if you've got the cash reserves, but producers don't always have that luxury. Alternatively, the show might have been running for a number of years, and the life cycle of the show is merely coming to a close. Sometimes, shows close while business is relatively good, in anticipation of a traditionally slow time of the year, such as immediately after Labor Day, or the frigid depths of winter. Newsies is a recent example. Sometimes, shows close not because the producers have given up, but rather because the theater owners want to free up the theater for another show that they think represents a more lucrative prospect. Theater owners typically have a clause in their agreements with tenants that the owners have the right to force a show to close if sales fall below a certain level.

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Sourced from: AboutEntertainment.com