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Rosie cries as <I>Taboo</I> closes its doors (11257)

11257Entertainment News2004-02-10

Rosie cries as Taboo closes its doors

Minutes after the final curtain fell on Taboo, the $10 million Broadway musical that folded after three months of mediocre ticket sales, producer Rosie O'Donnell stood outside the Plymouth theater wiping tears from her eyes. "Thank you, Rosie!" fans shouted, holding Taboo playbills and posters for her to sign. "You're welcome," the fledgling theater producer said softly. She held a digital camera up to her face and snapped a few photos in front of the marquee before walking with girlfriend Kelli O'Donnell to a private party down the block.

Despite her tears, O'Donnell was resolutely positive in a speech before Sunday's sold-out performance, theatergoers said. She thanked the audience for its support, urged people to register to vote in time for November's election, and--to wild applause--vowed that the show would return someday, according to audience member Leviathen Hendricks, 34, an actor who lives in Manhattan.

Taboo, funded entirely by O'Donnell, told the story of gender-bending pop singer Boy George. It played 16 previews and 100 performances before closing at a loss of its entire investment. Boy George, who played performance artist Leigh Bowery in the show and wrote its mostly original score, made a brief speech after curtain call. He thanked O'Donnell and the show's cast and crew for "an amazing job." "I've learned a lot--much, much more than I thought I would," he said, possibly alluding to the show's turbulent preview period. O'Donnell brought in a consultant to help director Christopher Renshaw and reportedly battled with actor Raul Esparza.

Although Taboo received negative reviews and routinely played to half-capacity audiences, it appealed to a devoted cult of fans who turned out in force Sunday. Some sported glittery, Taboo-inspired costumes, and a handful of people without tickets--mostly in their teens and 20s--huddled outside the theater during the first act. Braden Chapman, 20, decked out in black leather chaps, heavy mascara, and quarter-size rhinestone earrings, said he had seen the show three times. What kept him coming back, he said, was "the affirmation it gives to people that it's OK to be weird." O'Donnell first saw the musical in London, where it had a 15-month run. Announcing its Broadway closing last month, she called the show "by far the most fulfilling experience of my career" and said she had no regrets in deciding to produce it. "It's sad that it's closing, but I know it'll have a life after this," said choreographer Mark Dendy as he stood outside during intermission. "Some things happen before their time."

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