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'Taboo' to close on Feb. 8

O'Donnell to lose all of her $10 million investment in lackluster play
/ Source: The Associated Press

“Taboo,” the Boy George musical brought to Broadway by Rosie O’Donnell, will close Feb. 8, losing all of its well-known producer’s $10 million investment.

The show, which opened Nov. 13 to largely negative reviews and publicity, has struggled since then 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.

“‘Taboo’ was by far the most fulfilling experience of my career,” O’Donnell said Tuesday in a statement. “Many lessons were learned, and so it goes. For this experience, I am profoundly grateful and have no regrets.”

The cast was told of the closing before the Tuesday evening performance, said John Barlow, a spokesman for the show.

When “Taboo” closes Feb. 8, it will have played 16 previews and 100 performances.

O’Donnell put up all the money for “Taboo” herself.

“I always think: Go big or go home,” O’Donnell said during a September new conference to promote the show. “Taboo,” the producer said, was “a legitimate, knock-’em-down, leave-’em-screaming, worth-a-$100-a-seat Broadway show” and predicted it would win the Tony Award for best musical.

O’Donnell was a hands-on producer for the musical, which has a mostly original score by Boy George. It tells the story of the 1980s English pop star, played by Euan Morton, as well as that of performance artist Leigh Bowery, portrayed by Boy George himself.

During the musical’s turbulent preview period, O’Donnell brought in Jeff Calhoun as a “choreographic consultant” to help director Christopher Renshaw. The producer also reportedly battled with Raul Esparza, one of the performers in the show. He reportedly walked out of a rehearsal, but later returned.

O’Donnell originally had seen the musical in London where it had a 15-month run, and she decided to bring it to New York.

“If I can make this happen (on Broadway) it would be unreal,” the producer said last September, recalling her decision. “The score was brilliant. All I felt that was needed was ... some of the real story of what happened to these people being more accurately reflected.”

She then commissioned playwright Charles Busch, author of “The Tale of the Allergist’s Wife,” to write a new book.