Fastest-Closing New Broadway Musical of the Year: Hands on a Hardbody

The truck-centric show will have only lasted 56 performances

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Chad Batka / The Hartman Group / AP

Hands on a Hardbody did seem like an unlikely Broadway musical: based on a documentary of the same name and with music by Phish’s Trey Anastasio, it’s the story of some down-on-their-luck individuals who enter a gimmicky contest to win a truck. Though he thought the title would be a hard sell to audiences unfamiliar with the true story behind the show, TIME’s Richard Zoglin deemed it “a surprisingly engaging little show” and “fully road-worthy.”

(MORE: TIME Reviews Hands on a Hardbody)

Still, it seems few were willing to take it for a test-drive: the producers recently announced that the show will close on Saturday, Apr. 13, with just 56 performances—28 of them previews—under its fan belt. As the Associated Press reports, that move will earn the show the dubious distinction of being the fastest-closing new musical of the season. (A Broadway year is measured differently from a calendar year, encompassing the period of eligibility for the Tony Awards. This year the 2012-13 season ends on Apr. 25, the date by which a show must official open in order to qualify for a nomination—and, with that cut-off looming so close, the Hands record is unlikely to be broken.)

So was it the tricky-title curse that did the generally well-received show in? The New York Times suggests that another factor may be this season’s glut of grabby musicals opening around the same time, from Kinky Boots to Pippin to Matilda. There’s been no word on how much it cost producers to put Hands on a Hardbody together—though the New York Post, which saw this closing coming, suggests that it’s about $450,000 a week—but statistics over at Entertainment Weekly show that the traditionally Broadway-friendly Easter holiday did increase sales at Hands on a Hardbody for the last week of March…to a modest $321,043, about a third of the money it could have made during that week and more than $100,000 short of a profit. (On the other hand, that’s enough to buy about 50 new Nissan hardbody pickup trucks.)

2 comments
gratefuldedalus
gratefuldedalus

A number of shows have closed after their first night. I recall one called 'Kelly' in 1965.

SteveCharb
SteveCharb

What was the fastest-closing new broadway musical last year?  Of all time?