Wednesday, November 8, 2023

"The Merrily Effect": Flops Deserving of Revival

With the epic success of the current Broadway revival of Merrily We Roll Along, I've been thinking about other big Broadway Flops that could possibly turn around with the right team behind it. Let's call it "The Merrily Effect."

"The Merrily Effect": 
Flops Deserving a Revival 

From the 80s:

(1984-85 season; 25 previews, 71 performances)
With its themes of racial, economic and sexual tensions set against the show-bizzy world of burlesque, I think modern audiences are ready for a revival. Dark and unrelenting, yet optimistic and powerful, the right director and someone to tighten up the book could make this the hit it deserves to be.

Wind in the Willows
(1985-86 season; 25 previews, 4 performances)
Despite a cast full of future Broadway stars (Nathan Lane played Toad), and Tony nominations for book and score, this was a fast flop. But I suspect that Broadway audiences are much more accepting of clever, fanciful, "family-friendly" shows featuring actors as animals. This classic tale has easy to digest plotting, while still tackling important themes. I wonder what Tina Landau might do with this property?

From the 90s:


Shogun: The Musical 
(1990-91 season; 18 previews, 72 performances)
I actually saw this show more than once, and I am confident there is a hit musical to be found in there. A contemporary re-look at the show - a deeper focus on Japanese culture and history, with less stereotyping would be a great place to start. And, while I loved the spectacle of it all, maybe a "less is more" stylized approach would heighten the story and conflicts. A show doesn't have to be overwhelming to retain an epic feel.

The Capeman
(1997-98 season; 59 previews, 68 performances)
Considering how it turned out for him, I doubt Paul Simon would be willing to revisit his score. To be honest, the score wasn't the issue here. It was the book that felt busy, muddled and either too one-sided or too undecided, depending on your point of view. Today's audiences are much more willing to engage with real-life stories of injustice (see Parade). Some tightening, along with the right director (Lin-Manuel Miranda, maybe?) could make this important work a success.


  1. All these are terrible choices

  2. Thank you for your response, anonymous. I'd love to hear your suggestions for shows from those decades or maybe the 2000s and 2010s, as I'm preparing a similar article for publication soon.


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