You’ll have to pardon me today if I enjoy a victory lap, having beaten the dailies to the announcement of Surf The Musical’s demise by a good 97 minutes.* (Suck that, Thomas F. Mitchell!) However, if you set store by the fable of the tortoise and the hare, pay heed to John Katsilometes‘ autopsy of the $10 million dud. Kats says the show is closing Aug. 15 but Planet Hollywood is sticking with Aug. 19. (Ticketmaster hasn’t gotten the memo, still selling Surf tickets through Nov. 4) He also writes that the concert-in-drag received “reviews that ranged from tepid [that'd be the R-J's Carol Cling] to poisonous.” (That’d be me.) Between this and The Producers, Gary Loveman’s batting average with B’way-type shows is a robust 0.00, unless you count Jersey Boys, which sort of fell into his lap when Sheldon Adelson got too greedy. (Barry Manilow was offered to move his act down to palatial Harrah’s Las Vegas but politely declined, I’m told.)
According to Sun sources, Surf never sold so much as 200 tickets a night, sometimes fewer than 50 — or 3%-13% of capacity. Imagine: 48 or 49 lonely souls in that gargantuan space. The demoralization of the cast had to be off the misery charts and even covering the “nut” must have been a hopeless task. Audience smelled this multi-million-dollar turd a mile off and, as the saying goes, stayed home in droves. The surviving Beach Boys were right to keep this stinker at arm’s length.
Given its Broadway pretensions, the production, load-in and running cost, and the anemic receipts, Surf has a powerful, quantifiable case for being the biggest single bomb ever detonated on the Strip … and hey, I saw Fuego/Raw Talent Live/Fuego Raw Talent/ND’s Fuego! So I know from bombs. Nicole Durr never could decide what to call that clusterfrack until the Sahara called it quits.
* — Katsilometes, incidentally, insists upon credit for breaking the story on the ground that he sent a Surf-is-dead Tweet at approximately 12:40 a.m. So be it. Standards of journalism in electronic media have really fallen through the floor, if you ask me.