Show Boat Sails Home Month Early, 19 SepDate: 6 July 1998
Show Boat, the multi-award-winning Broadway production which opened at the Prince Edward Theatre on 28 April 1998 (previews from 20 April), has posted early closing notices for 19 September, nearly a month before the 17 October end of its booking period.
The production arrived for its British premiere with 57 American actors, singers and dancers in tow along with 20 trucks carrying the 40 foot long and 25 foot high 'Cotton Blossom' and over 500 costumes.
It was believed that the cast - the biggest currently on the West End stage - would eventually be replaced by local performers, but spokesman Chris Millard told What's On Stage that this was merely speculative and, in the end, proved unviable for both financial and artistic reasons. 'It's a monster of an operation trying to recast 57 people,' he said. 'It's just not sensible.'
Once this was agreed, said Millard, it was always clear that the run would finish in October. The recent curtailment is due to the contractual obligations of a few principal cast members which require them to return to the States. Producers decided, rather than recast for a few weeks, to finish 'while the going's good'.
There are no current plans to take the London company elsewhere. Some of the cast may, however, return to roles in various Show Boat productions which continue to tour the States.
This Hal Prince production of Show Boat is a new version of Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II's classic musical, incorporating elements from various scripts and film adaptations during the past 70 years. The production opened on Broadway in October 1994, setting the record for the largest box office advance for a musical revival. It went on to win a total of 26 awards across North America including five Tony Awards.
Based on Edna Ferber's novel, Show Boat spans four generations aboard the 'Cotton Blossom' floating theatre from Natchez to Chicago and back again.