Producers announced that Gabriel Byrne’s solo show “Walking with Ghosts” will close on Nov. 20.
The one-man show, which is an adaptation of his eponymous autobiography, began its limited engagement at the Music Box Theatre on Oct. 18, opened on Oct. 27 and announced on Wednesday that it will close early. The production is now set to close on Nov. 20 despite originally being scheduled to run for just 75 performances through Dec. 30.
Before landing on Broadway, “Walking with Ghosts” premiered at Dublin’s Gaiety Theatre and the Edinburgh International Festival, and then played a limited engagement on London’s West End in September.
The play is a recollection of Byrne’s childhood in Ireland, mixed with commentary on stardom and reflection on the people and places that shape us. Working with director Lonny Price, Byrne took his 2020 autobiography and set out to create an experience at the theater that would both engage and stimulate audiences.
“I came to understand that writing prose and drama are completely different forms of expression, and to turn prose into drama wasn’t so easy,” Byrne told Broadway News. “It was a tremendous learning process; not easy but deeply, deeply fulfilling.”
Price said that he was initially sent an unedited copy of the book and was “dazzled” by Byrne’s prose, calling the manuscript eloquent, smart, witty and profound. He and Byrne — who met working on the New York Philharmonic’s 2008 production of “Camelot” — began developing the play last November by diving into the book, choosing material and deciding on a structure. While there’s plenty of material that didn’t land onstage, Price said Byrne “wasn’t the least bit precious about any of it.”
“It still lives, it just isn’t on the stage with us,” Price said.
A pride point for Byrne — who has previously appeared on Broadway in “A Moon for the Misbegotten,” “A Touch of the Poet” and “Long Day’s Journey Into Night” — has been the connection between the stage and the audience.
“You can really hear silence in the theater. I love to hear the laughter, but the silence is powerful,” he said. Byrne is of the belief that what happens between the stage and an audience should be a spiritual experience “where you forget who you are for the duration of the event that’s happening.”
“The deepest, fulfilling, happiest part of theater is people listening.”
Both he and Price shared the same objective in hoping that, by listening to the stories onstage, audience members leave thinking about their own lives and, as Byrne said, how they can unlock the doors in their heads.
Byrne said that when he goes to the theater, he wants to laugh, be moved and carry the play out with him. He wishes the same for the audiences who come to watch him. “If I succeed in that, I will be deeply, deeply happy.”
“Walking with Ghosts” is produced on Broadway by Anne Clarke, Mara Isaac and Neal Street Productions. The play was commissioned and first produced by Landmark Productions. Along with Price, the creative team includes scenic and lighting designer Sinéad McKenna, costume designer Joan O’Clery and composer/sound designer Sinéad Diskin. Wagner Johnson Productions serve as executive producers.