NEW YORK (AP) — Show business is fickle. Just ask the folks in "Side Show."
On the same day that the Broadway musical landed a coveted spot on the "Today" show, it announced it was closing.
Emily Padgett and Erin Davie on Friday morning performed "I Will Never Leave You" only hours after learning that they will, indeed, leave each other. Davie seemed to tear up at the end of the already-emotional song.
Producers said the show will close Jan. 4, the same date that the last version of the cult show closed 16 years ago. This new version will have lasted even a shorter time on Broadway.
"It's a bit of a head-scratcher," said director Bill Condon. "Obviously, there's some puzzle piece that's missing for people. I can't obviously say what it is because we have very, very consistently strong reactions to the show every night."
The musical, about a pair of conjoined twins during the vaudeville era, opened this fall at the St. James Theatre, but has struggled at the box office, earning just $483,000 last week from a $1.2 million potential.
Performing on "Today" was meant to increase interest in the show after good reviews didn't seem to push the needle. Discussions about when to pull the plug were happening shortly after its Nov. 17 opening.
The show this time had earlier made stops at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., and La Jolla Playhouse in California. Condon said he was grateful for the opportunity to bring it to New York and "shine a spotlight on this show again and introduce it to the next generation."
"Whether big or small, I find that the most gratifying experiences are the ones that always attach themselves to the audience. And this one does it in spades," Condon said. "So if it wasn't as big an audience as it needed to be, it was as passionate an audience as I've ever seen."
The musical features the songs "Who Will Love Me As I Am?" and "Come Look at the Freaks." It arrived on Broadway as the culture seemed to be seized by delight in circuses and so-called freaks, with Bradley Cooper starring in "The Elephant Man," a circus-themed "Pippin" nearby and FX's "American Horror Story" going strong on TV.
The original "Side Show" — starring Emily Skinner and Alice Ripley — closed its original three-month Broadway run in 1997, losing $7 million but still garnering four Tony Award nominations.
Condon, best known for his hit feature adaptation of the musical "Dreamgirls," is next set to direct a live-action version of "Beauty and the Beast" for Disney.
Mark Kennedy can be reached at http://twitter.com/KennedyTwits