Rosie Pulls Plug on Her Broadway Baby
“Taboo,” the critically battered Boy George musical produced on Broadway by Rosie O’Donnell, will bring down its curtain for good on Feb. 8, losing all of its well-known producer’s $10 million investment, according to published reports.
When the show opened — to extremely negative reviews — on Nov. 13, O’Donnell, 41, told reporters, “If people really want to see what I’m all about, they should go see this show.”
But, apparently, nobody really cared to see what she was all about.
The show never attracted an audience and has continually struggled to reach its weekly break-even point — reportedly more than $400,000. Last week, according to the League of American Theatres and Producers, it grossed $281,333, filling only half the seats at the Plymouth Theatre.
Not that O’Donnell is letting it go quietly. “‘Taboo’ was by far the most fulfilling experience of my career,” she said in a statement. “Many lessons were learned, and so it goes. For this experience, I am profoundly grateful and have no regrets.”
O’Donnell reportedly had a hand in all aspects of the ill-fated production, which was originally a modest little show that enjoyed a successful 15-month run in London. The New York Times notes that at one point Rosie stubbornly dumped the poster designed by an expensive ad firm in favor of one of her own collages, until her effort was deemed ineffective at boosting ticket sales.
The opening of the musical also coincided with O’Donnell’s well-publicized $100-million-plus lawsuit against the former publisher of her ill-fated Rosie magazine. That, too, is appearing to be a wash, with the judge in the case saying he is unlikely to award either side any money.
The “Taboo” cast, which includes Boy George in a secondary role (another actor plays Boy George on stage in the confusing show), was informed of the closing before the Tuesday evening performance, said John Barlow, a spokesman for the show.
All told, “Taboo” will have played 16 previews and 100 performances, and O’Donnell’s being the sole financial backer of the enterprise has inspired some jabs from all corners of the theatrical world, including one particularly quotable zinger from Rosie’s friend Nathan Lane.
As soon as Lane returned to the hit musical “The Producers” two weeks ago, his crooked producer character delivered the new wisecrack: “Everyone knows you shouldn’t invest your own money in a Broadway show. That’s taboo.”