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Disney's 'Tarzan' to close July 8 on Broadway

Photo: AP

The lavish Disney stage version of its 1999 animated film will close after 486 performances and 35 previews, Thomas Schumacher, head of Disney Theatrical Productions, announced Friday.

"I am disappointed that the Broadway production of Tarzan will close earlier than any of us had hoped, and I would have loved for it to have been as successful in New York as it now is in Holland," Schumacher said.

The show, which received mostly negative notices on Broadway, has been a big hit in the Netherlands, opening there in April 2007 to good reviews and a sold-out summer at the Circustheatre in The Hague. Other productions are planned for Germany and possibly Japan, Schumacher said.

Although Tarzan will have played for more than a year by the time it ends its run at Broadway's Richard Rodgers Theatre, the production will close at a loss. Disney executives won't reveal an exact figure.

Last week the show grossed $516,251, playing to about 75% capacity at the Rodgers.

"It (the closing) is completely a business decision"  I have to run this (Tarzan) like a business," Schumacher said in a telephone interview. "If I look at how we have been selling through the spring, if I look at our advances ... I can tell that I am going to have a summer where I am going to be losing a substantial amount of money. ... And I don't artificially keep shows going.

"But Tarzan is not just one production," Schumacher added. "I have multiple productions of Tarzan coming, and I have a big successful one running. This production is a loss. But the title of Tarzan within our catalog and within the Disney franchise will do just fine."

On Broadway, the musical, which features a score by pop star Phil Collins, stars Josh Strickland as the ape man and Jenn Gambatese as his loyal mate Jane. It was written by David Henry Hwang, author of M. Butterfly, and directed by Bob Crowley, who also designed the show's sets and costumes.

Tarzan isn't the only Disney musical closing this summer on Broadway. Beauty and the Beast ends its more than decade-long run July 29, after 5,464 performances. It will be replaced at the Lunt-Fontanne by Disney's next Broadway show, The Little Mermaid, which opens Dec. 6. Preview performances begin Nov. 3.

Mermaid, directed by Francesca Zambello, will play an out-of-town tryout in Colorado at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House, which is part of the Denver Performing Arts Complex. Preview performances begin July 26, with an opening set for Aug. 23.

Meanwhile, Disney's two other Broadway musicals "The Lion King and Mary Poppins" keep chugging along, pulling in grosses of more than $1 million each week

© AP

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