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'Money to Burn' flames out

October 15, 2003|Matt Wolf | Associated Press

LONDON — The new musical "Money to Burn" has closed less than two days after opening, one of the shortest runs ever for a show in the West End.

The musical thriller, written and directed by newcomer Daniel Abineri, made its final curtain after Saturday's matinee, with the evening performance -- which never happened -- due to start an hour or so later. Like many London shows, "Money to Burn" did an early and late evening performance on weekends. The production, which cost an estimated $550,000, had opened Thursday.

Why so short-lived a run?

The producers, in a statement, blamed the swift demise on "the devastating reviews and the immediate impact that these reviews had on our future box office." The notices were unusually savage, especially in a town where theater critics tend to couch their harsher observations with the occasional leavening word. Not so here.

Charles Spencer in the Daily Telegraph called the musical's account of an aristocratic loafer named Lord Oliver Justin "jaw-droppingly dreadful." In the Guardian, Michael Billington was one of several critics to give the show one star out of five: "Faced with such dross as this, one's first inclination is to run screaming into the night."

There were reports of low double-digit attendance at the 320-seat Leicester Square theater, a newly built playhouse called the Venue. The theater opened in 2002 with the world premiere of the Boy George musical, "Taboo," which starts previews next week on Broadway.

The rapid collapse of "Money to Burn" doesn't help an already beleaguered West End, London's equivalent of Broadway.

It is very rare for any London venture to fold less than 48 hours after opening. Most likely, the producers of "Money to Burn" did not have money to burn.

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