Broadway’s ‘Chicken & Biscuits’ To Close Early Due To Financial Impact Of Covid Cancellations

After several canceled performances due to an undisclosed number of breakthrough Covid cases among the cast or crew, Broadway’s Chicken & Biscuits will close permanently at the end of the month, producers announced today.

“Due to the significant financial impact of the show cancellations, Chicken & Biscuits will need to play the final performance of its Broadway engagement on Sunday, Nov. 28,” the producers said in a statement. “We make this decision with a very heavy heart, as this production has brought so much joy into our lives during a very challenging time.”

On Tuesday, the production at Broadway’s Circle in the Square Theatre announced that it had canceled performances through tonight, but the suspension was extended today through next Thursday, with performances set to resume on Friday, Nov. 19. The comedy will now stage its final performance on Sunday, November 28; it had originally been scheduled to end its limited engagement on Jan. 2.

The play, written by Douglas Lyons and directed by Zhailon Levingston – both making their Broadway debuts – features an almost entirely Black cast, and has been praised as a significant element of the industry’s attempts to expand and diversity both its creative teams and its audience. “We witnessed first-hand the delights, surprises, laughter, and representation it bestowed upon a diverse and welcoming audience,” the producers said (read the entire statement below). “We are so proud of, and honored to have worked alongside the phenomenal talent on and off stage – more than 30 of whom made their Broadway debuts – and of the play’s magnificent and brilliant leaders, playwright Douglas Lyons and director Zhailon Levingston.”

Chicken & Biscuits was only the second Broadway production of the fall season to have canceled performances due to cases of Covid, but unlike the first – Disney’s Aladdin – the play likely did not have Disney’s deep pockets or access to the Small Business Administration’s Shuttered Venue Operators Grant money available to productions that had opened prior to the March 2020 shutdown.

Earlier this month, the Broadway plays Is This A Room and Dana H., playing at the Lyceum Theatre on alternate nights, announced early closings of Nov. 14, but a boost in ticket demand following the closing announcement prompted a two-week extension (the two plays currently are scheduled to run through the Sunday Nov. 28 matinee.) The Lyceum Plays, as they’re known, had originally been scheduled to play into January.

The Chicken & Biscuits production made headlines earlier this fall when the lead producers – Pamela Ross, Hunter Arnold, E. Clayton Cornelious, Leah Michalos – announced that Priyanka Chopra Jonas and Nick Jonas had joined the producing team.

The producers have indicated that the play – which focuses on the comic and dramatic fall-out when a large family reunites for a funeral – will have a life beyond Broadway.

“This is certainly not the final bow for this groundbreaking work, or its players,” the statement said. “We are incredibly excited about the future plans for Chicken & Biscuits, for which we have seen great demand from touring companies and regional theaters.”

The Broadway cast includes Cleo King, Norm Lewis, Michael Urie, NaTasha Yvette Williams, Devere Rogers, Ebony Marshall-Oliver, Aigner Mizzelle and Alana Raquel Bowers.

All tickets for the canceled performances will be refunded at the original point of purchase.

Here is the entire producers’ statement:

We are deeply appreciative of the outpouring of love and good thoughts for the company and show; the health and safety of our company must be paramount and so we have made the difficult decision to suspend performances through Thursday, November 18, so that the entire company can assuredly return in great form and health on Friday, November 19.

Due to the significant financial impact of the show cancellations, Chicken & Biscuits will need to play the final performance of its Broadway engagement on Sunday, November 28. We make this decision with a very heavy heart, as this production has brought so much joy into our lives during a very challenging time. We witnessed first-hand the delights, surprises, laughter, and representation it bestowed upon a diverse and welcoming audience. We are so proud of, and honored to have worked alongside, the phenomenal talent on and off stage – more than 30 of whom made their Broadway debuts – and of the play’s magnificent and brilliant leaders, playwright Douglas Lyons and director Zhailon Levingston.

This is certainly not the final bow for this groundbreaking work, or its players. We are incredibly excited about the future plans for Chicken & Biscuits, for which we have seen great demand from touring companies and regional theaters. We are so grateful to the entire theater industry and the generous audiences for embracing the play so whole-heartedly. It has been an inspiring experience, and it’s why we are adamant Chicken & Biscuits returns in great health on November 19 with this divine original Broadway company, to complete this Broadway run on the high note it deserves.

 

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