A Broadway play based loosely on the lives of Bill and Hillary Clinton will close early this month amid declining ticket sales, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
“Hillary and Clinton’s” producer announced on Monday that the show will end its Broadway run with a final performance on Sunday, June 23, at the John Golden Theater, even though it wasn’t scheduled to finish its “limited run” until next month.
The show premiered in March, but was written years ago after Hillary Clinton lost the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination to then-junior Illinois Senator Barack Obama. The play, which stars John Lithgow as former President Bill Clinton and Laurie Metcalf as Hillary Clinton, takes place mostly in a New Hampshire hotel room, as the pair comes to terms with Hillary Clinton’s inability to gain traction on the campaign trail despite being clearly qualified for the nation’s top job.
The writers are clear that the show is based in an “alternate reality,” possibly so that theatergoers wouldn’t consider the show a criticism of the Clintons’ trademark lack of self-awareness. In the play, both Bill and Hillary list out “alternate reality” Hillary’s potential shortcomings — something that probably wouldn’t happen in real life, particularly considering that Clinton herself has spent the last several years blaming Russian operatives and sexist red state voters for her 2016 loss.
When it closes on Sunday, the play will have just over 100 performances in the books — 37 preview shows and 77 shows in the run — and will just barely break even. “Hillary and Clinton” cost $4.2 million to produce and made only around $4.7 million in ticket sales. Last week, the show hit rock bottom, filling only around 33% of available seats.
The show’s only success seems to be Metcalf’s performance, which earned the actress a 2019 Tony nomination (she lost).
“Hillary and Clinton’s” closure seems to reflect a more universal, growing fatigue with the Clinton story — and, to a large extent, the Clintons themselves. In the years following Bill Clinton’s departure from office, and ahead of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential run, the pair commanded nearly a quarter million dollars each per public appearance and frequently filled ballrooms and small theaters with admirers. Hillary Clinton spent the summer before declaring her run for president speaking to packed banquet rooms and standing room only crowds on college campuses.
Since Hillary Clinton lost the 2016 election, though, the market for Bill and Hillary Clinton seems to have dried up. The pair went on a joint multi-city “discussion” tour at the end of 2018, expecting to sell out arenas the way former First Lady Michelle Obama was at the time, but in order to fill seats, venues were forced to sell tickets at deep discounts and using sale websites like Groupon. Resale sites like Stubhub often had tickets for the same events for under $10.
In 2019, the Clintons briefly resurfaced the tour, but faced the same lack of interest. Their final “performance,” at Las Vegas’s Park MGM arena, commanded a meager crowd, and tickets were available the same day for between $3 and $6.
To improve her appeal, Hillary Clinton has taken to appearing at Clinton Global Initiative events and recently began re-branding herself as an expert on climate change in order to qualify for more speaking engagements tied to her family’s foundation. Bill Clinton seems to have faded from the spotlight for the time being, likely leaving the public eye in order to make room for the 2020 Democratic presidential nominees.
One thing is for sure, though, they won’t be able to see themselves on Broadway any time soon. “Hillary and Clinton” probably won’t qualify for a revival.