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Elling to close 28 Nov, just 1 week after opening

A spokesperson for the Broadway premiere of Simon Bent's comedy, Elling, has announced that the show will close on 28 Nov 2010, just one week after opening. When the show closes it wll have played twenty two previews, and just nine regular performances.

Elling, opened on Broadway at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre on 21 Nov 2010, following previews from 2 Nov, and was to have played a strictly limited engagement through to 20 Mar 2011.

The show opened on Broadway to mixed reviews: I have walked through puddles that were deeper than this play. (newyorktheatreguide); Modest, oddball charm (NY Post); Unassumingly successful (Back Stage).

Rumors that the show was to announce its closure began when Denis O'Hare, who plays the lead role of Elling, wrote on his facebook page, "If you want to see Elling, ya better hurry. We are being closed down this Sunday ... yup. Our producers will go no further. Happy Thanksgiving!"

The New York Times reports that Elling, "earned only $145,070 for its eight performances last week, with the producers offering many tickets at a sharp discount. The average paid admission was $22.03, about half as much as the next low performer, the new play 'A Free Man of Color,' earned that week."

The show arrived on Broadway after a succesful world premiere at London's fringe theatre, The Bush, before transferring to London's West End where it played at Trafalgar Studios 1 from 6 Jul - 6 Oct 2007. That production, directed by Paul Miller, starred John Simm as 'Elling' and Adrian Bower as 'Kjell Bjarne.'

The play's failure to succeed on Broadway is being blamed by some on the size of the venue. London's Bush Theatre seats only 80 and Trafalgar studio seats 400, however, the show opened on Broadway at the much larger Barrymore Theatre - 1,100 seating capacity. This has led some reviewers to conclude that the vunerability of the two leading characters Elling and 'Kjell Bjarne,' and the intimacy of their relationship was lost, leaving only their buffoonery on display in the larger auditorium.

Marilyn Stasio of Variety complained in her review that Elling "was rumored to have had a certain gentle, wistful charm in its London production. (The 2002 film version was up for a foreign-language film Oscar.) But as dumbed down for American auds (why do they keep doing this to us?), this queasy-making comedy is so broadly played, by a cast headlined by Denis O'Hare and Brendan Fraser, it's close to sitcom."

Stasio was not the only reviewer to comment on the difference between the London and Broadway production, David Rooney of The Hollywood Reporter, wrote "On the London stage the drama about a family's murky secrets had an intoxicating nastiness; on Broadway it was turgid melodrama."

Elling stars film actor Brendan Fraser, star of movies such as, "The Mummy" film series, "Crash," "Dudley Do-Right," "Looney Tunes: Back in Action" and "George of the Jungle" in his Broadway debut. The cast also features Tony Award-winner Denis O'Hare (Take Me Out), Jennifer Coolidge (The Women), Tony Award-winner Richard Easton (The Invention of Love) and, just joining the cast, Jeremy Shamos.

Elling is adapted by playwright Simon Bent from the film "Elling," a screenplay by Axel Hellstenius, which is itself based on the novel of the same name by Norwegian writer Ingvar Ambjørnsen.

Mummy's boy Elling (Denis O'Hare) and his roommate, the uncouth, reluctant virgin 'Kjell Bjarne' (Brendan Fraser), are the Odd Couple of Oslo: a pair of confused souls taking their first steps in the outside world after years of isolated, institutional life. Given a flat in the city by social services, they must re-assimilate themselves into society or face a return to the asylum. So it's simply a question of convincing their social worker that they really are "normal" - even if it does feel safer sleeping in the wardrobe.

The design team is comprised of Scott Pask (set), Kenneth Posner (lighting), Catherine Zuber (costumes) and David Van Tieghem (composer/sound).

The play is to be produced on Broadway by Howard Panter for Ambassador Theatre Group, Bob Bartner, Bill Kenwright, John O'Boyle, Deborah Taylor, Burnt Umber, Bill Ballard/David Mirvish, Finola Dwyer, David Parfitt, Ronnie Planalp and Michael David in association with Bob Boyett.

Denis O'Hare & Brendan Fraser

Originally published on