Aside from the media’s bashing of Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, which finally began previews November 28, this past month has been defined by premature Broadway closings and closing notices due to weak ticket sales. Unfortunately, many of those pink-slipped plays were headlined by openly gay actors. Originally scheduled to run through January 2, a revival of A Life in the Theatre, which starred T.R. Knight, closed November 28. Originally scheduled to run until February 12, La Bête, which stars David Hyde Pierce, will now end January 9. Poor Elling, which starred Denis O’Hare, also closed November 28 — after only nine regular performances! Jeez, was it something we said?
So why did Elling close so abruptly? A better question might ask what it was doing at Broadway’s Barrymore Theatre to begin with. Imagine The Odd Couple Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest on a cheap Ikea bedroom set constructed by out scenic designer Scott Pask and you might get an inkling of Elling. OK, Ikea’s Swedish, but I know nothing about Norway except for the popular Norwegian novels, movies, and plays upon which Elling was based. Jennifer Coolidge spread her signature mannerisms over four thankless roles, distinguished mainly by different wigs, but the rocky bromance between Denis O’Hare’s quirky agoraphobe and Brendan Fraser’s dim oaf was this plodding comedy’s saving grace — along with the eye-opening scene in which they swapped dirty undies on stage. Too bad that Fraser’s let himself go since his Gods and Monsters heyday.
Originally set to run through December 30 at New World Stages, Devil Boys From Beyond, a 2009 FringeNYC hit, closed December 4 due to poor attendance. It’s an infernal shame too, because Buddy Thomas’s fiercely campy all-male spoof of 1950s sci-fi B movies was a heavenly riot, particularly for fans of the drag genre send-ups perfected by Charles Busch and Charles Ludlam. Paul Pecorino and Chris Dell’Armo starred as rival newspaper reporters out to scoop the story when super-hot aliens from a gay planet — actor-models Jeff Riberdy and Jacques Mitchell — invade Lizard Lick, Fla., to impregnate the elderly townswomen and propagate their race. Adding maturity and class to the production were Andy Halliday, longtime member of Busch’s Theater-in-Limbo, and Everett Quinton, longtime member of Ludlam’s Ridiculous Theatre Company.