Audra McDonald’s short, powerful, and pointed play “Ohio State Murders,” starring a writer as a reminder of the racism and violence she faced as a college student, will close on Broadway sooner than expected after a struggle to sell tickets.
The play was her Broadway debut for 91-year-old writer Adrienne Kennedy, a critically acclaimed playwright whose surreal work is often presented on smaller stages and taught at universities.
“The Ohio State Murders” is one of his most accessible works—essentially a 75-minute memory game in which the protagonist tells a gripping story about his college years—but it still proved to be a tough sell in the commercial arena, despite strong criticism. and starring McDonald, one of Broadway’s most beloved actors.
The production began previews on November 11 and opened at the James Earl Jones Theater on December 8. It was scheduled to run until February 12; instead it will close on January 15th.
The production struggled to find an audience – while Broadway was swarming with tourists last week, “Ohio State Murders” filled only 49 percent of its seats and was worse for many weeks. It grossed $311,893 for nine performances last week; this was the high water mark for the run so far.
According to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the game, produced by Jeffrey Richards, was capitalized for up to $5.1 million; This money was not refunded.
Broadway is always a financially risky proposition – far more shows fail than successful – and the climate has become more challenging since the start of the coronavirus pandemic as costs have risen and attendance has plummeted. Last week was the best the industry has seen since late 2019, but the riches are uneven: “Ohio State Murders” after “Walking With Ghosts”, “KPOP”, “Ain’t No Mo'” and “Almost Famous” is coming. “While announcing that he has unexpectedly closed this season early.