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'Boheme' cuts short N.Y. run

Sluggish ticket sales mean a touring version will come to L.A. six months early.

June 12, 2003|Don Shirley | Times Staff Writer

Baz Luhrmann's Broadway staging of Puccini's "La Boheme," which won two Tony Awards last Sunday, will close June 29 after 228 performances and 12 previews. The closing will enable the touring production of the show to open in Los Angeles six months earlier than previously scheduled.

The L.A. engagement will now play the Ahmanson Theatre from Jan. 9 to March 7 instead of July 30 to Sept. 19, 2004.

Producer Jeffrey Seller said he had hoped the Broadway production would play through 2003. But projections of ticket sales haven't panned out. "Its appeal is to sophisticated theatergoers [and] we don't have confidence that they will be in town during those tourist weeks of the summer," he said.

Although the production won Tonys for scenic and lighting design, it lost to "Nine" in the best revival category. Seller brushed aside the Tonys as a factor, saying the only award categories in which wins have any impact on the box office are best musical and best play. He added that the appearance of the "La Boheme" cast in a number on the Tony broadcast generated some additional ticket sales.

The original plans for the touring production called for one-week stands in smaller cities, as well as longer runs in big cities. That plan has now changed. For Los Angeles, this means that the Ahmanson will now get "the entire New York production -- every piece of scenery" instead of a cutback version, Seller said. Although casting isn't set, he hopes the 10 rotating principals of the Broadway cast will perform in L.A. and also in London in the summer of 2004.

The Broadway production cost $8.5 million. Only a quarter of the capitalization has been earned back, Seller said, but he hopes the production's subsequent life will benefit its bottom line.

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