The news will send a shiver among backers of Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical Sunset Boulevard which opens tonight. Like Sunset Boulevard, City of Angels is a musical about Hollywood. It has a particularly witty book by Larry Gelbart, who scripted the film Tootsie, and much praised performances by Roger Allum, Henry Goodman and Haydn Gwynne. However, the show has been playing to only 50 per cent of capacity. One reason for the failure might be that it had few memorable tunes, and musical fans were not tempted to go by the excellence of the script, acting and direction. Equally, people who would have enjoyed the wit may not have been natural fans of musicals.
But the pounds 30 top price seats may also have proved forbidding in the recession. The show, which cost pounds 2m to put on, had a possible take of pounds 200,000 a week but needed to fill 60 per cent of the house to break even. Roger Berlind, the American producer of the show, said yesterday: 'After receiving universally rave reviews no one has been able to account for the poor audience attendance.'
Sunset Boulevard, which opens at the Adelphi tonight, has cost pounds 3m to put on, but has already sold pounds 4m worth of tickets. But a spokesman for the production said yesterday: 'Even that sort of advance doesn't guarantee an automatic success these days.'