|A Night with Janis Joplin closed yesterday|
Before you write, I applaud any attempt at getting a new show up on the Broadway stage. And I am not criticizing the actors and actresses in these shows, nor am I wishing unemployment on the dozens involved with each new show. But at some point, these talented folk need, no, deserve better material, and we, the audience, deserve a little more art with our shows.
Now, I'm not saying it can't work. After all, the granddaddy of them all, Jersey Boys, is a phenomenon. While I personally don't care for the show - that they rarely sing an entire song all the way through drives me nuts - I do recognize that everyone involved has worked hard to make it more than a live "VH1 Behind-the-Music" documentary. They've made the show into four season-themed segments (get it?) that at least try to make the group's rise and fall into a tale that goes beyond the life story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. How successful that is, I'll let you decide.
Missed opportunities are what really plague these shows ultimately, and savvy Broadway audiences - the ones that will keep a show running after the Baby Boomer bus trips run out - know this. Look at the just-closed A Night with Janis Joplin. The performances of the entire company were superlative. Mary Bridget Davies not only did an uncanny impression of Joplin, she sang with a passion that blasted off the stage. But aside from finding out that classic blues singers influenced Janis' decision to be a rock star, the show presented little reason for her life to be made into a musical. It might have worked had the show delved into her rise as the Queen of Rock and Roll that paralleled her descent into a personal Hell filled with sex and the drugs that led to her untimely death.
|Motown: The Musical|
|Beautiful: The Carole King Musical|
|Baby It's You!|
This is not to say a really good bio-musical isn't out there waiting to happen. The personal drama of The Carpenters juxtaposed with their squeaky-clean image succeeding in an era of edgy psychedelia and political strife could really be compelling. But Broadway really shouldn't/doesn't need to be in the rock-star-impersonation-show business. Leave it Vegas and - gulp - Branson, where they can make a show big and splashy AND and empty-headed trip down memory lane for all those beloved Baby Boomers.