Signature's 'Glory Days' Ends One-Day Broadway Run

By Nelson Pressley
Special to The Washington Post
Thursday, May 8, 2008

Out, brief candle: "Glory Days," the musical that made the great leap this spring from Arlington's Signature Theatre to Broadway, has closed the day after opening to hostile reviews.

The modestly scaled show raised eyebrows for its fast track to the big time. Penned by two locals -- 23-year-old composer-lyricist Nick Blaemire and 24-year-old librettist James Gardiner -- the 90-minute, pop-driven musical deals with four friends sorting out their differences a year after high school.

Artistic director Eric Schaeffer's production opened at Signature in January, and moved virtually intact to the Circle in the Square.

The Broadway glare proved to be a bit rough.

In yesterday's New York Times, chief critic Ben Brantley wrote that "the show and its characters are gawky, sincere, tentative, self-contradictory and given to home truths that are expounded on as if they were discoveries of new planets. This means that the production manages to seem fresh and seriously stale at the same time."

Brantley added that the producers "have done this little, hopeful show no favors by dragging it into a spotlight that invites close and unforgiving inspection."

The Post's Peter Marks offered an encouraging review in January, writing that it "swiftly, tunefully and yes, authentically latches onto the rhythms of late adolescence" while noting the thin narrative and characterization.

In yesterday's review of the New York production, Marks wrote, "The swaggering energy of the actors -- who are, as they were in Arlington, Steven Booth, Andrew C. Call, Adam Halpin and Jesse JP Johnson -- remains an asset. It's just that the piece doesn't create enough dramatic space for the tensions and resentments among the characters to build in a wholly integrated way."

Musicals seldom close so rapidly, especially those opening in the full flush of Tony nomination season. (The Tony nominations will be announced Tuesday; the awards will be held June 15.) Even long shots typically hold out for some kind of nomination, and with a comparatively small budget of $2.5 million and cast of only four, "Glory Days" -- the season's final musical -- would have seemed a candidate to brave out tough notices for a bit.

But while the novelty of two extremely young talents crashing Broadway created considerable publicity, the online chatter ran from befuddled to venomous, and the box office was dismal. During last week's previews, the show grossed just under $47,000 and played to about 22 percent capacity.

In a statement issued yesterday, producers John O'Boyle and Ricky Stevens said, "Sadly, given the overnight reviews and our low advance sales, we believe it is prudent to close the show on Broadway immediately."

The show was produced by O'Boyle, Stevens, Richard E. Leopold and Lizzie Leopold, Max Productions, Alan Mingo Jr. and Broadway Across America in association with Signature.

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