*In an unconventional move, Motown The Musical has announced that after its Jan. 18, 2015 performance at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre, it will shut down for more than a year, then, return in July 2016 with a more cost-effective production.
“We are only saying farewell to Broadway for now,” said co-producer Kevin McCollum in a statement. “We are leaving on a strong note, because we have a plan in place to come back even stronger.”
In the meantime, the show will continue its successful U.S. tour, which has grossed $20 million over its 16-week run, and kick off a UK production next summer.
The hit Broadway musical — penned by Motown founder Berry Gordy and featuring pop standards by Diana Ross, Smokey Robinson, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Mary Wells, Gladys Knight and more — is produced by Gordy, McCollum and Doug Morris. Directed by Charles Randolph-Wright, it was nominated for four Tony Awards in the 2013-14 season.
“We’ve seen that Motown The Musical demonstrably appeals to a wide range of audiences,” McCollum continued. “The passionate response to our show and the Motown catalogue puts us in a great position to arrange a successful return, while at the same time Motown The Musical branches out nationally and internationally.”
Motown has broken the house record at the Lunt-Fontanne, with weekly grosses consistently north of $1 million for the entire year since its opening, and the production is on track to recoup its $18 million investment within the next few weeks. Still, while the show has cumulative box office to date on Broadway of $92 million, totals have seen a small decline since the holiday season.
Producers have indicated that some minor streamlining will be undertaken before the show returns to Broadway, in order to bring down its high weekly running costs.
“Motown The Musical opened in New York without the benefit of an out-of-town tryout to immediate and amazing response,” continued McCollum. “We learned a lot from producing the premiere, both on an artistic and practical level. When we launched the first National Tour on a full Equity Production Contract, we were able to incorporate changes that present a new, visually and musically vibrant version of the show, equal in quality and excitement to its Broadway counterpart and that clearly appeals to audiences, as we have seen from the great sales figures in Chicago.
“By closing in January 2015, we have an opportunity to use the production assets from Broadway for the UK production next year. We are pleased to continue our great relationship with the Nederlander Organization for the next chapter of Motown The Musical on Broadway when we will return with a new production, our fourth, in the summer of 2016.”