In a surprise move, a new Broadway show that had already begun rehearsals announced on Thursday morning that its run this spring has been scuttled because of a money shortfall.
“Room,” adapted from an Emma Donoghue novel that had already been turned into an acclaimed film, was to start performances in 18 days, with the Tony winner Adrienne Warren starring. There was already a marquee illuminated outside the James Earl Jones Theater, and tickets were on sale.
The collapse, although not unprecedented, was startling, and comes at a time when the capitalization costs for Broadway shows have been rising, and some producers have had a harder time raising those funds. “Room” had been seeking to raise up to $7 million, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Hunter Arnold, who was producing “Room” with Sam Julyan and James Yeoburn, blamed fund-raising woes for the production’s shut down, which he described as an indefinite postponement.
“In the midst of our rehearsals we were informed by one of our lead producers that due to personal reasons, they did not intend to fulfill their obligations to the production,” he said. “Since being notified, the rest of the producing team has exhausted all possible avenues to keep the show on track, but the narrow timeline and economic shortfall created by this series of events has proven to be insurmountable.”
(This has been a rough season for Arnold: The SEC said in September it was investigating whether two of his partners had misled investors, but he said that investigation has since been dropped.)
“Room” is the story of a young boy raised in a shed where he and his mother are held captive by a sexual predator; the novel, released in 2010, was a best seller, and the film came in 2015. The show, written by Donoghue with songs by Cora Bissett and Kathryn Joseph, had been staged several times in the British Isles and in Canada starting in 2017; Warren, who won the Tony in 2021 for starring as Tina Turner in the “Tina” biomusical, was to play the boy’s mother on Broadway.
The last time a Broadway show imploded this close to opening was in 2016, when “Nerds” collapsed, also citing fund-raising woes. And in 2012, the musical “Rebecca” collapsed, also citing money trouble; that show’s troubles led to litigation.