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'Little Mermaid' Sets Final Broadway Swim

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NEW YORK – "The Little Mermaid" is set for its final Broadway swim.

The lavish musical based on the Disney animated film will close Aug. 30 after a 20-month run, producer Thomas Schumacher announced Tuesday.

"As much as it hurts to do, it's the best thing to do ... for the show because it allows 'Mermaid' to its maximize its audiences now during the summer," said Schumacher, president of Disney Theatrical Productions.

A national tour is planned for fall 2010 and it will be followed by overseas productions.

"By the time 'Mermaid' closes, it will have done 685 performances," the producer said. "It's a respectable run, just not what I would have hoped for. ... At some point, one has to put one's ego aside and do what's best for the production. And certainly in our case for the shareholders who have invested in it. We have to do right by the show."

"The Little Mermaid" has done respectable although not boffo business since opening in January 2008 at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre. Last week, for example, it grossed $863,745, out of a potential gross of nearly $1.3 million.

Disney doesn't reveal the cost of its shows, and Schumacher declined to discuss the "Mermaid" recoupment, saying: "We don't go into that. The only time we've ever talked about it was on 'Mary Poppins' (it did recoup) and that's because we had an outside producer on it — Cameron Mackintosh."

But shows like "Mermaid," with lavish sets and costumes, usually cost upward of $15 million.

Schumacher was bullish about the musical's upcoming tour prospects.

"When we did our out-of-town tryout in Denver (in 2007), we sold out every single performance," he said. "We've never had an out-of-town tryout that performed as well, which gives me a clue that the tour could be enormously successful."

International prospects are bright, too, he added, with offers for both European and Asian productions.

As for more Disney shows on Broadway, Schumacher said: "I don't have a new musical planned for New York right a way."

Next could be "Peter and the Starcatchers," a play by Rick Elice, most likely for the 2010-2011 season, the producer added. Based on the popular novel by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson, the play is a prequel to "Peter Pan."





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