re: Musical Revivals
Last Edit: Marlo*Manners 03:42 pm EST 12/14/18
Posted by: Marlo*Manners 03:35 pm EST 12/14/18
In reply to: re: Musical Revivals - BroadwayTonyJ 02:55 pm EST 12/14/18

I saw "Parade" - it was not exactly entirely artistically successful though it had memorable performances from Brent Carver and Carolee Carmello. Frankly, it could work powerfully in a spare, meticulously cast Off-Broadway venue like CSC. It was not popular.

"Applause", "The Unsinkable Molly Brown" and "Funny Girl" all suffer from the same problem - none of these shows were first-rate and all of them succeeded because of a platinum incandescent out-of-this-world star in the central female role. "Funny Girl" has had several Broadway revivals floated over the years - most recently Bart Sher was going to direct Lauren Ambrose as Fanny. The book is weak and most people when they think of the show are thinking of the superior movie version with Streisand who simply will hover over any revival like the Ghost of Fanny Past. "Applause" just isn't a very good score that is stuck in the 70's and very few current divas have the old school "star" idiosyncratic delivery and style to play Margo Channing. When Tammy Grimes passed, I relistened to the OBC of "Molly Brown" - it sounded like a Broadway flop. The second act just falls apart musically and dramatically. Attempts have been made to 1) Get Reba McEntire to do the show for Encores! or a concert version and 2) do a thorough revisal with the score bolstered by songs from the movie version plus reworked Meredith Willson leftovers. It just isn't a good show. Tammy was something else, as was Betty Bacall and that girl from Brooklyn. BTW: "Mame" has a similar problem - the show is dated with a book that needs reworking. The score has a few evergreen gold standards (I just heard "We Need a Little Christmas" being played on the sound system at Amish Market) but also a lot of filler and dross. It's a well-known title that is not as good as we once thought it was and it needs a truly incandescent star in the title role.

"The Rink" also is not a good show and what success it had was due to the two great ladies who carried it. Yes, there are wonderful songs but the whole score is not on the level of "Colored Lights". I think successors to Chita and Liza could be found but again it would need to be revised and reworked and it isn't a popular enough title to justify the millions spent on a Broadway revival.

"Rags" as we know has a much better score and there is a great show in there. It wasn't popular in its original (flop, financial loss) Broadway production and many attempts have been made to fix it. It is worth doing though. But it isn't a "money in the bank" title. "Mack and Mabel" is a similar story - the book just doesn't present a story that sustains emotional interest but the score is amazing. That is what Encores! was made for but Jerry Herman only wants his shows done in full Broadway revivals, no Encores concert stagings.

"Kiss of the Spider Woman" could fly with someone like Jennifer Lopez in her Broadway debut as Aurora or a big Spanish language pop star crossing over.

"Grand Hotel" wasn't a great show but it had a great production - the Encores production was really well done with a great cast. But it is too soon for a big revival. Both "Grand Hotel" and "Will Rogers Follies" had the benefit of Tommy Tune's direction in their original Broadway outings - without his styling the shows aren't that strong. If Hugh Jackman or a big Country-Western singing star wanted to do Will Rogers, it could get revived.

"Merrily We Roll Along" will roll along sooner or later - it seems we must have Sondheim revivals every other year. Probably has been avoided because it was originally a flop and not as "popular" as the Playbill article wrongly suggests.

"Best Little Whorehouse in Texas" also is a dated show and one that could run into political correctness issues in our sensitized age. The sexual revolution has passed and prostitution is not a lighthearted matter.

"Lil' Abner" and "Fiorello!" have good scores and fun books but the subject matter has little public recognition. People know who "Spongebob Squarepants" is but "Lil' Abner" is strictly for the blue hair crowd. Fiorello La Guardia was gone about 20 years when "Fiorello!" was created and everyone in New York remembered him and loved him. Those people and those times are now gone. Again, "Encores!" did a great job in making a case for the show but neither of these are "money" titles.

"Secret Garden" again is too soon but that is a good choice - you might want to go the chamber route with a lovely intimate production in a small house.

Marlo Manners (Lady Barrington)

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