Friday, February 24, 2006

the hell?!

Naturally, even though I have My Yahoo set up to give me all the headlines, where do I head first? "Dear Abby" and the Broadway section. Yahoo tells me today that the shows opening on Broadway soon (i.e. eligible for the Tonys) are:

1. A musical based on Disney's Tarzan--and starring some guy from "American Idol"
2. A musical based on Anne Rice's Lestat, apparently in trouble
3. A musical based on Johnny Cash's songs--but not an autobiography!
4. A musical based on the movie the Wedding Singer (although "totally different")
5. Pajama Game--a revival with Harry Connick Jr.
6. Threepenny Opera--another revival
7. Hot Feet, a musical using Earth, Wind and Fire's music and based on "The Red Shoes."

and finally, the only new show...

8. "Man in Chair"

Which is the only show that sounds remotely interesting!!! I mean, COME ON!!!! Speaking as someone who has recently seen several new musicals (granted, all of them in need of major re-writes) and who is a HUGE FAN of the musical theatre genre I am MORE THAN A LITTLE UPSET at the fact that Broadway can't be bothered to come up with anything more interesting than back catalogues and recycled movies! Now, I loved "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels" as much as anyone, and yes, I paid to go see "We Will Rock You" but this is just ridiculous. I also read in the Guardian recently that people were lining up for three hours to get tickets to "Spamalot" which is opening here--IN OCTOBER. Geez. Most shows are based on some source material (Phantom, anyone?) but come on--the Wedding Singer?!

I don't know what it's going to take to build a new show that is musically interesting, dramatically challenging and yet commercial. Apparently an act of God or something. Maybe I'm just spoiled--maybe there are brilliant little musicals appearing in American I haven't heard about. I doubt any of my loyal readers have heard of "The Ballad of Elizabeth Sulkymouth" which was fabulous. And, speaking of commercial theatre, Andrew Lloyd-Webber's "Woman in White" is closing soon so I'm going to try and go see it tomorrow. (he hasn't responded to my letter yet, which gives me hope that he took it to heart and is really working on not sucking.)

There is a sense that musical theatre is "popular culture" which is true. But because it falls under that genre it needs to appeal to non-theatre people. Also--musicals are usually more expensive and so need to bring in more punters, which means non-theatre people. But why do people write musicals for non-theatre people? What's wrong with writing something for those of us who ARE theatre people and who DO love musicals? Is it possible to do something that is dramatically astounding because it simply IS and is also a musical? I think of the Tonys: the musicals get to perform a song or something from the show, the more "serious" shows--straight plays--get a nod or maybe a montage of lines from an actual production. Too dignified--or would that simply not appeal to middle-class America who is paying for the commercials? Perhaps we should just say to hell with the categories and have "BEST SHOW PERIOD." It brings to mind when Disney's "Beauty and the Beast" was nominated for Best Picture--it didn't win, and then the Academy felt a need to create an animation category. Who cares what the genre is? I just want to go see good shows. damnit.

3 comments:

Samantha said...

Trazan---blah, but it's Disney, with truck loads of cash thrown at it so at least it should be a design wet dream.

Lestat--not in as much trouble as you're hearign given that Elton John has never had a flop and is puring money in this project to insure it doesn't. It still probably will given the track record of vampires on Broadway. Still the cosutme designer is thrilled that she had to redesign 80% of the show, but oh wait! All of the shops are full of other projects. Good thing with Elton money;s no longer an issue.

Ring of Fire--trash. Our easy going draping teacher, who sees the bright side of every flop walked out at intermission. Apparently the actors looked ashamed to be on stage.

Wedding Singer? Are there no more original ideas on Braodway? So far we have four adaptions of other works.

Only good news about Three Penny Opera and Pajama Game so far

Hot Feet? Only Mama Mia seems to have worked out of previous attempts at this genre of musical.

I'm with you on Man in Chair

Samantha said...

Oh---and Woman in White just closed in New York last Sunday.

Samantha said...

Update: Man in Chair is a charater in "Drowsey Chaperone" for those having trouble locating the new work...it opens the first week of April.