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Rediff News  All News  » Movies » It's curtains for Baz's La Boheme

It's curtains for Baz's La Boheme

June 13, 2003 15:53 IST

Baz Luhrmann's daring Broadway show La Boheme, a lavish reinterpretation of the Puccini opera, which was performed in Italian with English subtitles by gorgeous and sexy actors far younger than the ones usually seen in traditional operas, is soon ending its run with a huge loss.

The rotating cast of the principal artistes in the show come from more than half-a-dozen countries, including China, Russia and America.

The critically acclaimed show about the plight of bohemian artists in Paris and their troubled love lives has been showing to half-full houses for over two months. It is ending its seven-month run on June 29, with a reported loss of about $6 million. The show cost $8.6 million. It will go down as one of the biggest money losers on Broadway. The dubious list includes such shows as The Sweet Smell Of Success, which lost nearly $8 million.

"I always wanted to bring opera to a wide audience, especially the young viewers," Luhrmann, whose films, including Moulin Rouge, have never failed to make a profit, had told on the eve of La Boheme's premiere.

"I know the risk involved," he continued. "Bringing an Italian opera to Broadway is damn risky, but then everything I've ever made has been an enormous risk, including my early films such as Strictly Ballroom."

Many people had asked him if he was crazy, he said with a hearty laugh. "Maybe I am," he continued chuckling.

Noting that the show had gone full for most of its six-week run in San Francisco, he said the risk was worth taking in New York. "It is one of the most beloved of the operas," he said. "It is a terrific love story and has a very strong emotional pull. I want opera, which I enjoy so much, to be made widely accessible. I am convinced Broadway is prepared for a show like this."

The show received two minor Tonys on Sunday, including one for set designs by Catherine Martin, the director's Oscar-winning wife. It lost to Nine The Musical in the Best Revival category.

Jeffrey Seller, one of La Boheme's producers, told the press on Thursday that the show had failed to connect with the 'suburban, traditional musical theatre-going audience. We reached the cognoscenti, we reached the kids, we reached the Baz fans, we reached art lovers in New York City, particularly Manhattan.'

La Boheme, which is playing at the 1,705 seat Broadway Theatre, one of Broadway's largest houses, has been grossing between $500,000 and $600,000 in recent weeks, often failing to break even.

Another critically acclaimed musical, A Year With Frog And Toad, aimed mostly at children, was a loser at the Tonys. It will end its brief run on June 15 with a loss of more than $3 million.

Arthur J Pais