All tagged Flops

Remembering Big

Movies have long been the inspiration for Broadway musicals. It is easy to say that this is a recent trend, but that simply is not so. Just as there have been many musicals that have taken their inspiration from plays, books, and historical events, there have been musicals that draw from cinema (from the 50’s on, anyway). In the 1990s, the trend toward adapting films for the musical stage seemed to gain even more traction, and by the turn of the century, everywhere you looked on Broadway you could find movies reimagined for the stage.

Remembering Grind

An eagerly anticipated musical of the 1984-1985 Broadway season was Grind, set to be Harold Prince’s big project of the time, but ultimately part of a sequence of lulls in what was an otherwise prolific career of genius and artistry. Grind was an edgy musical that depicted the harsh divide between races in burlesque theatre of Chicago in the 1930s. With a book by Fay Kanin, and a score by Larry Grossman (music) and Ellen Fitzhugh (lyrics), Grind was an ambitious piece of musical theatre that had a hard time settling into what it wanted to be. Sometimes, it played like a broad comedy, sometimes it felt as though it was aiming for serious drama, and the show-within-a-show moments often left audiences feeling like they were watching a musical revue, even when those numbers were making commentary about what was happening onstage. Still, there was something special about Grind sometimes did work, and much of that came from just how daring it set out to be. 

Remembering King of Hearts

When I was in college in the 1990s, my favorite course was The History of the American Musical Theatre. The stories, the evolution of the form, the music, the musicals themselves all played into the interests I had been cultivating for years, listening to cast albums and reading librettos checked out of the local library. I adored this class so much, in fact, that I took it four times, once as a for-credit class within my major, and three other times as an independent study. With each round, the professor catered my experience so that I would hopefully learn something new and not just repeat old material. On round three, he chose musical theatre flops to be my focus. As the class explored musical theatre by the decade, I would study the flops of the same period, often going to the college library and finding old theatre reviews bound in these enormous binders. When we started on the 1970s, this is when I happened upon a show I hadn’t heard of, a charming piece of musical theatre that, although imperfect in so many ways, had little  bursts of brilliance. That musical was King of Hearts

10 For 10: Ten Flop Musicals of the Last Ten Years That Deserve a Second Look

A while back, I wrote a piece about flop musicals that deserved a second chance on Broadway. Many of you wrote to me and wondered why I hadn’t mentioned any recent shows. When I write about this kind of topic, I typically look at older titles and prefer to wait for the dust to settle on more recent shows in order to gain some objectivity. This does not mean I haven’t enjoyed some of the short-lived shows of the last decade. It may be too soon to say that any of them deserve revivals, but I think it is fair to say that some of them deserve a second look. So, as to assuage those who think I’m trapped in the past, here are 10 for 10, ten musicals from the last ten years that I think had plenty to offer and most likely deserve a second look.