“West Side Story,” an ambitious, reimagined revival of the classic musical, will not reopen when Broadway returns this fall, the show announced Monday, making it one of the biggest productions yet to become a casualty of the pandemic.
The show’s lead producer, Scott Rudin, announced in April that he was stepping back from active roles in his Broadway productions after he came under fire for a long history of bullying employees. But Rudin said at the time that while the decisions about the future of “West Side Story” and his other shows would be left to others, he hoped that they would return to Broadway when theaters were allowed to reopen.
The “West Side Story” revival — put together by a creative team with avant-garde credentials, including the director Ivo van Hove and the choreographer Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker — opened in February 2020, less than a month before the coronavirus outbreak shut down Broadway and brought performances around the nation to a halt.
“This difficult and painful decision comes after we have explored every possible path to a successful run, and unfortunately, for a variety of reasons, reopening is not a practical proposition,” Kate Horton, a producer on the show, said in a statement. “We thank all the brilliant, creative artists who brought ‘West Side Story’ to life at the Broadway Theater, even for so brief a time, especially the extraordinary acting company, 33 of whom made their Broadway debuts in this production.”
News of the closure of “West Side Story” comes as Broadway is cautiously preparing for a return. Preview performances of the play “Pass Over” began last week, and are scheduled to be followed next month by the return of longtime favorites including “Hadestown,” “Hamilton,” “Wicked” and others.
Several other shows produced by Rudin are planning to return to Broadway. Aaron Sorkin’s stage adaptation of “To Kill a Mockingbird” plans to resume performances on Oct. 5 with Jeff Daniels back in the cast; the production announced that the show would now be overseen by Orin Wolf, who would be given the title of executive producer.
But even as Broadway prepares for a triumphant return, the departure of “West Side Story” offers a reminder of the toll the pandemic has taken on the industry.
Last May, only two months into the pandemic, Disney Theatrical Productions announced that its stage adaptation of “Frozen” would not reopen. “Mean Girls,” a Broadway adaptation of the 2004 film with a book by Tina Fey, also announced it would not return.
The “West Side Story” production, while daring, opened to mixed reviews. A new film adaptation by Steven Spielberg is scheduled to be released in December, but the Broadway show will not be around to capitalize on any interest that the new film version generates.
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