Thursday, August 13, 2020

BEST OF THE DECADE: 15 Favorite Musical Flops

We are nearing the end of our Best of the Decade series, and we'd be remiss if we didn't look back on our favorite sub-genre of musicals: The Flop. We know that technically, every show that doesn't recoup its investment is considered a flop, but we mean any show, critically acclaimed or not, that had a disappointing, short run. There are a lot of reasons why a show fails, some justified, other mystifying. No matter what the cause(s), enough people just didn't show up. Our list includes those shows that we personally wished had found their audience and run for years. We loved each one for a variety of things, but generally, we found them exciting and worthy - we gained something of value from them all. We are grateful.

Best of the Decade:
Jeff and Mike's
15 Favorite Musical Flops

American Psycho
We reveled in its psychotic weirdness, just as it did. Its brilliance as a commentary on both the 1980s and the impending Trump years (we laughed at the Trump jokes; we didn't know what were in for) was scathing. Benjamin Walker was perfection. We are left with this question: did anything we saw actually happen?

Bonnie and Clyde
Do we have a thing for psychotic, violent people? A broken America? Apparently so. I loved every thing about this show - the cast, the book, the score, the direction, the look of the show. "How 'Bout a Dance?" is one of my all-time favorite show tunes. This deserved way more than it got.

The Bridges of Madison County
One of the best scores in decades (and a well-deserved Tony Award), a moving story, and a hypnotic cast weren't enough to keep this show going. We just don't get it. I don't think we'll ever fully understand.

Finding Neverland
Perhaps it is my love for all things Peter Pan, but I adored this show, which included for me a noisy sob in the front mezz of the Lunt-Fontanne. True, this is the longest runner on the list, but it should have been (and was expected to be) a blockbuster hit. 

Ghost: The Musical
Maybe the film is too beloved to have been a success. But this stage version did everything a screen-to-stage show should do - celebrate the famous moments, expand the ideas, and create theatrical moments that are better than any film can do. Plus it had Caissie Levy and Richard Fleeshman...

Hands on a Hardbody
We loved this show so much, we saw it twice. I think the cast was most impressive - including Keala Settle, Jay Armstrong Johnson, Jon Rua, Hunter Foster among them. There was just something so warts and all American about it. Real people, real struggles.

Head Over Heels
I am so disappointed that I only got to see this wonderfully joyous show one time. I was never really a Go-Go's fan beyond their biggest hits, and the story, on paper, seemed ridiculous. But this show dove deep and owned the impracticality and silliness, and came up with a hilarious, touching and impressively inclusive romp. We did get the completely fabulous Bonnie Milligan from it, so there's that.

The Last Ship
We saw the Sting Last Ship concert special on PBS, and considered not going to see the full show. But we were so glad we did. What an emotional experience. I would definitely like to see this again.

Lysistrata Jones
After loving its off-Broadway incarnation, we snapped up tickets for Broadway as soon as we could. It was even better there. The youthful cast - including Patti Murin, Josh Segarra, Jason Tam, Alex Wyse and Teddy Toye - was exuberant and seemed to be having the time of their lives. The feeling was mutual.

The Prom
This feel-good show was ground-breaking and full of fun with an important message. Smart and sassy shouldn't have been difficult to sell. Still scratching our heads about the failure of this one.

The Scottsboro Boys
This is arguably the greatest new musical of the 21st Century to date. Most of you really missed something amazing.

Side Show
The original flopped, too. And yet, both productions presented a piece worthy of the stage. Ahead of its time in 1997 and 2014. Try again!

Spring Awakening
One of the most beautifully rendered productions I've ever seen. It was sheer brilliance, and its main conceit didn't exploit a handicap, it proved that the experience was all the more rich because it was included. The first and last images haunt my dreams still.

Tuck Everlasting
The first show on this list and this charming (and beautiful to look at) show are both proof that there was much more to that season than Hamilton. This one deserved much more of a run.

The Visit
Like the other Kander and Ebb show on this list, and like most of their shows, this was a difficult, challenging piece. In a decade or so, a new director will come along, and tastes will catch up with both shows and they'll be the toast of the town. They deserve it.


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