Everything's Coming Up Closes

"Young Frankenstein" is no longer putting on the Ritz. "13" has been 86'd. And the Knights Who Say "Ni" will have nothing left to say after Sunday when "Spamalot" launches its final flying cow.

Some 13 Broadway shows have closed or are closing this month, marking what New York Times theater critic Charles Isherwood called a January "for the history books." "Hairspray," "Grease" and "Spring Awakening" are also among the shows saying winter goodbyes.

Sure, some of the productions -- including "Liza's at the Palace" and "All My Sons" -- were limited runs. Others, though, were done in by poor reviews, overstayed welcomes, and, of course, the economic downtown.

The final bows will raise the curtain on a time of uncertainty for the New York stage, long a draw for tourists from around the country and world.

The theater community is taking action: A full-page ad in Sunday's New York Times touts "Tickets available for every budget," and points would-be theatergoers to www.ilovenytheater.com, a website run by The Broadway League.

Show folks also are responding in the best way they know how: by putting on a show. There's a lot riding on a crop of new offerings, including some that stress the safe and familiar.

Revivals of "West Side Story" and "Guys and Dolls" are on the way. Will Ferrell will make his Broadway debut in the one-man show, "You're Welcome America. A Final Night with George W. Bush," while "9 to 5: The Musical," will feature music and lyrics by the original movie comedy's star Dolly Parton.

There are hopes that hits like "Billy Elliot," "Jersey Boys," "Wicked" and "In the Heights," will help keep the Great White Way in the black during the bleak winter months.

Meanwhile, there's still time to catch to a couple of the outgoing favorites, if you're in town. You can't go wrong with "Gypsy," featuring a stellar cast led by Tony Award-winning human tornado Patti LuPone. The rollicking Monty Python musical comedy "Spamalot" is good for some laughs to take your mind off the cold weather -- and perhaps chillier times to come.

Hester is founding director of the award-winning NYCity News Service at the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism. He is the former City Editor of the New York Daily News, where he started as a reporter in 1992.

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