Posted in Theatre

Follow the Money


What is going on with this most recent Broadway season?

Last year, we got OsloIndecentDear Evan Hansen, and even Come from Away. This time around, it seems we’re getting sub-par play revivals, Margaritaville, and the equivalent of REALITY SHOW: The Musical. More on that later.

Don’t get me wrong…there are a lot of potentially great things on the horizon, namely the revivals arriving in the spring. (Angels in AmericaThe Boys in the BandMy Fair LadyCarousel!)

But it also seems like a truckload of variety acts are landing on stages that were once reserved for theatrical ideas/innovation. As we already know, showbiz is…well…a business, and producers put their money into projects they believe will be successful. Which begs the question- what criteria are they using?

With the deluge of live shows that open during the Christmas season- including the Radio City Christmas SpectacularElf at MSG, and A Christmas Carol on MacDougal Street- who made the decision that a revue starring reality show winners should be playing a coveted Broadway house? (It’s the August Wilson Theatre, to be exact, and they had to take down its Mean Girls marquee.)

I hate to say this, but I almost feel like productions that pander to the non-theatergoing crowd need to struggle at the box office. Perhaps then producers will recognize that they can’t just throw money at anything and have a Broadway smash. Perhaps then they’ll be more inclined to take a chance on fresh, quality material.

I don’t wish bad on Home for the Holidays. I am sure some folks will enjoy it. But to artists who pour their heart into original work and struggle to have it seen, it can feel like a slap in the face. I implore you, producers of the world: try to avoid giving prestigious Broadway credits to Bachelorette contestants and invest more in those who want to use art to change the world.

Posted in Theatre

Spotlight: “It was David Hyde Pierce in the Dressing Room with the Candlestick!”

If you ask me, the reason there aren’t many “mystery” shows on Broadway is because it’s hard to capture a whodunit story outside of dinner theatre settings. But they ARE out there. For anyone interested, here is a profile of some of the most well-known detective musicals.

Curtains (music and lyrics by John Kander and Fred Ebb, book by Rupert Holmes) Starred David Hyde Pierce in a Tony-winning performance and, apparently, the best role he’s ever played. Opened at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre in March 2007 and ran for 511 performances.

The Mystery of Edwin Drood (music and lyrics and book by Rupert Holmes) Wow, Rupert Holmes has really got a thing for mystery shows, hasn’t he?! Based on the unfinished final novel of Charles Dickens, it opened at the Imperial Theatre in December 1985 and ran for 608 performances.

Baker Street (music and lyrics by Marian Grudeff and Raymond Jessel, book by Jerome Coopersmith) Based on a Sherlock Holmes story. Opened at the Broadway Theatre in 1965 and ran for 311 performances. Here’s something that will BLOW YOUR MIND: Raymond Jessel is that older guy from last year’s America’s Got Talent season who sang the dirty song about a woman with- well- male genitalia.

Jekyll and Hyde (music and lyrics by Frank Wildhorn, Steve Cuden, and Leslie Bricusse, book by Leslie Bricusse) Not really a traditional detective show, but the identity of the murderer in this rock opera adaptation of the classic story remains a mystery to most of its characters. It opened at the Plymouth/Gerard Schoenfeld Theatre in April 1998 and ran for 1543 performances; the original Broadway production was filmed and features David the Hoff (!!) in the title roles.

A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder (music and lyrics by Steve Lutvak and Rob Freedman, book by Rob Freedman) Again, YOU know who the killer is in this madcap Edwardian comedy, but no one else in the show does! This is the only one of the five on this list that I have seen- and I loved it. The best part about it was Jefferson Mays as all eight doomed members of the D’Ysquith family, a true tour-de-force! It opened at the Walter Kerr Theatre in November 2013, won last year’s Best Musical Tony Award, and is still going strong.

How many of these mystery musicals have you seen? Do you think the genre works in live performance?

Lady Salome