Sunday, January 2, 2011

Goodbye Old Friends, Part I

Let the "Great Broadway Shut Down of 2011" begin.  Just as shows close after the Tonys each spring, a bunch of shows usually close after the holidays as Broadway hunkers down for the cold, lonely winter.  It is an annual cycle, one which allows theatres to become available for that next big hit.

Still, this year seems very brutal, with 14 shows scheduled to close before February starts.  A lot of them are limited engagements, a problem in and of itself.  A few are long timers who just ran out of steam.  And a few, most problematically to my mind, are brand new shows that never caught on with audiences.

Today, we mourn the loss of 8 Broadway shows.  EIGHT!   As the lights dim and each becomes a memory of Broadway history, here are my thoughts:

Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson
Opened: October 13, 2010
Previews: 26     Performances: 94
My Review Grade: A
My Thoughts:  While I can understand the thinking behind saying things like "this show is too off-Broadway for Broadway," I think it is wrong to perpetuate the notion that Broadway audiences can't handle something a-typical and boundary pushing.  Heck, isn't that what most theatre fans beg for?  Well, they gave it to us with this show, and no one showed up.  Like it or not, it was different and fresh and deserved more attention.  Shame on us.  Still, we got a set of hot new writers and director in Michael Friedman and Alex Timbers, and a brand new Broadway Male Star in Benjamin Walker.  And can you beat the tag line, "History just got all sexy pants!"?  An open run sadly cut short.

Brief Encounter
Opened: September 28, 2010
Previews: 21     Performances: 119
My Review Grade: A+
My Thoughts: Director/writer Emma Rice spun gold out of two middling Noel Coward pieces, combing them into a glib, romantic and thrillingly theatrical evening.  Noel would be thrilled.  The visuals were stunning and memorable, but instead of overwhelming the story, it only enhanced it.  The show was part of the Roundabout season, and so was only ever to be a limited engagement, and it was extended at that.

Elf: The Musical
Opened: November 14, 2010
Previews: 15     Performances: 58
My Review Grade: A
My Thoughts: Finally, a holiday show that I would like to see again, and any time of the year.  My love affair with writers Chad Begeulin and Matthew Sklar, as well as Amy Spanger.  And Sebastian Arcelus is at the top of my favorites list.  A limited engagement always, the show made a ton at the box office - I hope it recoups - and I really wouldn't mind it if it showed up this time next year.

Opened: November 23, 2009
Previews: 34     Performances: 462
My Review Grade: I didn't see this one.
My Thoughts:  You could have knocked me over with a feather back in the fall when it was announced that the show would close so soon.  I can only judge by people's reactions, many of whom put the show on their best of the year lists in 09 and 10.  Still, a unique entertainment that lasted this long is to be commended.  When it opened off-Broadway, did they really think Broadway, London and National Tour?

The Pee-Wee Herman Show
Opened: November 11, 2010
Previews: 18     Performances: 62
My Review Grade: I didn't see this one.
My Thoughts:  A hit show is a hit show, right?  Lots of people just a bit younger than I am went, loved it, and would never have dreamed of seeing a Broadway show before this.  Maybe Pee-Wee has birthed a few life long theatre goers.  A limited engagement that was extended and recouped is a great thing these days.

Promises, Promises
Opened: April 25, 2010
Previews: 30     Performances: 291
My Review Grade: A+
My Thoughts: I loved this show and will miss it terribly.  I won't dwell on the controversies that plagued the show.  But it did provide me with two unforgettable experiences that I will cherish always: Kristin Chenoweth Tweeting about my review, and later, meeting her at the stage door to thank her.  She actually stopped for more than a minute to shake hands and speak to me.  People looked at me like I was a star.  And I was smitten all over again!  Too short a run for a great old-fashioned, beautifully staged musical.

West Side Story
Opened: March 19, 2009
Previews: 27     Performances: 748
My Review Grade: A+
My Thoughts: This classic is one of my all time favorites, and a staging that recreated the original was both nostalgic and profound.  The dancing was as breathtaking as I always imagined.  I didn't even mind the Spanish.  And how many shows get better when replacements come in?  This is one show I wish I had gotten to one more time.

Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown
Opened: November 4, 2010
Previews: 30     Performances: 69
My Review Grade: I didn't formally review the 2nd preview - I had hoped to get back to it on the 16th.  But even as it was, I'd have given it a B- at the 2nd preview.
My Thoughts:  Congratulations, Internet rats!  You finally killed one before it got off the ground.  OK, it probably still lacked some how (Sherie Rene Scott was miscast, and really not good.  It wasn't the material.) as it was busy, but never frenzied.  Ultimately, it was a mix of circumstances, including unrealistic expectations that killed this one.  Still, it was a lot of fun and a thrill to see such talent all a one time.
Prediction: Laura Benanti will be Tony nominated and could even win.

Comments?  Leave one here, email me at jkstheatrescene or Tweet me!

1 comment:

  1. I had a friend who just saw Promises, Promises in NYC last week and LOVED IT. She saw a few other shows while she was their, but she just Raved about this one.


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