To understand why the hit Broadway musical “Promises, Promises” will close after just nine months, gaze up at the show’s giant billboard over Times Square. There are the smiling faces of Sean Hayes and Kristin Chenoweth, stars who are the chief reasons the show usually grosses $1 million a week.
This is the decided downside of Broadway’s dependence on star casting: how do you recast roles that grow to be heavily identified with widely recognized actors?
Stars and celebrities have become crucial to modern Broadway, with virtually every top-grossing play and many musicals having household names in the cast. Often they come from television, like Mr. Hayes, an Emmy-winning actor who starred on “Will & Grace,” which ran eight seasons on NBC. Among the hits of the last Broadway season were the drama “Fences,” with Denzel Washington, and the musical “A Little Night Music,” with Catherine Zeta-Jones, both Oscar winners.