The musical "Marguerite" is to close nearly two months earlier than was originally planned.
The production, currently playing at the Theatre Royal Haymarket, will close on September 13th after a mere 147 performances.
Based on Alexandre Dumas’s novel La Dame Aux Camélias, the plot... is familiar for the other stories that have used the same source – most recently Baz Luhrmann’s film Moulin Rouge. But here, the distinguished creative team led by Oscar-winning composer Michel Legrand has set the tale of a high-class courtesan and her penniless lover against the backdrop of occupied Paris during World War Two.
As well as Legrand, the show's creative team includes award-winning actress Ruthie Henshall - a regular of the West End and Broadway for nearly 20 years - plus Alain Boublil, Claude-Michel Schonberg and Herbert Kretzmer - creators of one of the world's longest running musicals, "Les Miserables". With a pedigree like that, it's a shock to theatre-goers that this musical should be closing so soon.
Boublil and Schonberg have issued a statement about the closure, stating:
"Despite high praise from audience members, critically acclaimed performances and the release of the much anticipated cast recording, we have made the difficult decision to close the show in London a few weeks earlier than originally planned. Both the knock on effect of the current economic climate, as well as disappointing ticket sales throughout the summer months have contributed to our decision to close early."
"We are grateful to our outstanding cast led by Ruthie Henshall, Julian Ovenden and Alexander Hanson and to our exceptional production team and artistic collaborators who have helped us to realise Marguerite: at the Theatre Royal Haymarket. We are very proud of what we have achieved. In January next year we begin rehearsals for a Japanese production which will open at the Akasaka ACT Theatre in Tokyo in February, followed by performances in Osaka, and plans are underway for a Spanish production in 2009 and a French production in 2010."
So there is still life for this show, but this is of little comfort to London's beleaguered theatre scene, which has already seen five of its theatres closed this summer.
The Apollo theatre will reopen in September with Rain Man. However, along with the Comedy, Gielgud, Lyric and Novello, it is set to remain closed for the summer.
The theatre critic Mark Shenton said: "Tourists – particularly the Americans who traditionally keep the theatre alive in the summer – are staying away, thanks to the weak dollar and a recession that is starting to bite."
Marguerite will be replaced by a production of The Girl With a Pearl Earring, which opens on September 29 for a limited season.