Broadway debut short-lived

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A stage version of the popular Norwegian movie Elling hit Broadway last week, but the production didn’t get much of a run, reports website VG Nett. Poor reviews and failure to get its message about the Norwegian social welfare state across to American audiences led to its closure after just seven days.

The play Elling opened in the Ethel Barrymore Theater in New York City last Sunday, marking the first time a Norwegian production had hit Broadway apart from the plays of Henrik Ibsen. The stage version featured an entirely American cast playing the Norwegian roles of two men named Elling and Kjell Bjarne, who try to live on their own in a state-financed apartment after being released from a psychiatric hospital.

The film version based on the book by Norwegian author Ingvar Ambjørnsen won rave reviews, attracted crowds and even an Oscar nomination, but the stage version fell flat. Some enthusiastic audiences, featuring many Norwegians, gave the cast a standing ovation, but the play was panned by the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times. Reviewers apparently didn’t get its humor, or portrayal of Norway’s social welfare services, and called some of the actors “charmless” on the stage.

VG Nett reported the last performance would be on November 28, cutting short a run that was supposed to last until March 20.

Views and News staff