amBroadway | ‘Spamalot’ and ‘Days of Wine and Roses’ set closing dates

“Spamalot” has set a closing date.
Photo: Matthew Murphy & Evan Zimmerman

No less than 17 new Broadway shows will open between now and the end of April, including the new musical adaptation of “The Notebook,” which officially opens on Thursday night). However, as if providing a warning shot that many of these shows will experience serious challenges at the box office, two acclaimed (yet very different) Broadway musicals simultaneously posted closing notices last week: “Spamalot” and “Days of Wine and Roses.”

The Broadway revival of “Spamalot,” which opened in November to rave reviews that were as cheery as the show itself, will close on April 7 following a 24-week run at the St. James Theatre. “Spamalot,” which originally played Broadway in 2005, is adapted from the 1975 medieval times-meets-slapstick comedy film “Monty Python and the Holy Grail.”

There had been no real plan to bring “Spamalot” back to Broadway. Last winter, the Kennedy Center (which has its own Encores!-style series in which older musicals receive short revival runs) was forced to cancel a planned production of “Kiss of the Spiderwoman” due to rights issues and, as a last-minute replacement, presented “Spamalot” instead, which unexpectedly went off like gangbusters and then transferred to Broadway.

As directed and choreographed by Josh Rhodes, the supercharged revival maintains the glitzy, freewheeling, and fast-paced showmanship of the original production and is led by a new cast that is superbly daffy and game, including James Monroe Iglehart (the original Genie in “Aladdin”) as King Arthur, Leslie Rodriguez Kritzer (“Beetlejuice”) as the Lady of the Lake, Christopher Fitzgerald (“Waitress”), and Ethan Slater (“SpongeBob SquarePants”).

But while the production is terrific, and there is definitely a need in the world today for the kind of pure musical comedy joy offered by “Spamalot,” the fact that the revival is so similar to the original production, and the lack of a big name star who can easily draw audiences (e.g., Hugh Jackman in “The Music Man” or Josh Groban in “Sweeney Todd”) may have led to it being unable to continue on Broadway beyond a short run, especially with increased competition from so many new shows on the way.

Days of Wine and RosesPhoto: Joan Marcus
Days of Wine and RosesPhoto: Joan Marcus

On the other hand, “Days of Wine and Roses,” Adam Guettel’s musically literate adaptation of an unapologetically tragic 1962 film depicting how alcohol addiction ruins the lives of a married man and woman (played by Brian d’Arcy James and Kelli O’Hara), will close on March 31 after opening at Studio 54 in late January. It was originally intended to be a 16-week engagement.

The musical, which received its world premiere last summer in an Off-Broadway production by the Atlantic Theater Company, was never going to be an easy sell, especially in light of its demanding score (which evokes contemporary opera), depressing subject matter, and moralizing tone (which feels outdated and heavy-handed today).

The fact that it received a commercial Broadway transfer at all is surprising. However, its brief presence has certainly made the Broadway season much richer, not unlike the short run of the innovative musical “Here Lies Love,” which contrasted a dance club aesthetic with the life story of Imelda Marcos, the corrupt former First Lady of the Philippines.

It remains to be seen whether any of the other musicals about to open on Broadway in the coming weeks will be as artistically well-made as “Days of Wine and Roses” or as fun as “Spamalot.”

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