re: Idina and Goldsberry are inspired choices
Last Edit: Chazwaza 04:44 am EDT 08/15/22
Posted by: Chazwaza 04:23 am EDT 08/15/22
In reply to: re: Idina and Goldsberry are inspired choices - Singapore/Fling 11:09 pm EDT 08/14/22

-She absolutely 100% did not make it "culturally relevant", but sure, I know you think she did and on that we will just disagree.
-Again... the show has been running 2 months. I think that has to be kept in mind when calling it a "hit" ... we have no idea how sales with be with Stephanie J Block, known only to theater people, taking over for the global music star, and her basically unknown husband stepping in as her co-star... and with her being the biggest name in the new cast... these declarations of massive hit and financial saving are a bit premature... as I happily acknowledge, it's a hit so far... TWO MONTHS in. With a global superstar in the lead role and many other notable favorites in the rest of the cast. And again, it transferred off the word of mouth from Encores with a major TV star and Broadway star/Tony winner in the lead at the time too (NPH)... it's not like it came out of nowhere.
It's entirely possible this ITW will have a great and raved about (at least for 1 cast, that was only there less than 2 months) but short run... and run way less than Encores transfers like Wonderful Town (1 year 3 months), Gypsy (10.5 months), or just about as long as short-lived transfers like Violet (4.5 months), The Apple Tree (3.5 months) and Finian's Rainbow (3.5 months)... since it's still got an almost new cast and 3 months to go to get to the status of Violet... we don't know yet. And at least with these other productions, audience knew they were seeing the same cast that made everyone rave and buzz (this could be a bad thing for tickets sales for new casts, or a great thing, or both and balance out).

-Yes, she programmed it, a wise and savvy choice after two enormous misfires that weren't just misfire of show (The Life should have been an amazing and overdue choice)... but oversaw embarrassing and mockable productions and revisions.
She programmed a surefire hit assuming it was directed well, and she did that. I think it's wild to give her credit for "selling it out"... the title, Sondheim, the show, and that cast (again, with a global singing star and broadway favorite, and a huge tv star and broadway favorite, in the leads, plus much more)... she didn't come up with some out of the box marketing plan to convince people to give it a chance. She also didn't just "move it" herself... she may be the Artistic Director but she isn't the only or sole decider. But for her and the group of people who make decisions for Encores, this was an fantastic and obvious choice to make money and have a hit, and it did both.

-It is not unheard of to do 2 weeks. This was a summer production, several summer productions have been 2 weeks. Gypsy, which transferred to broadway (under Jack's run) and was a buzzworthy hit, played two weeks, as did Damn Yankees, and The Wiz played 3 weeks! It's not common but it's certainly been done before, including for a show they, one can assume, had clear Broadway hopes for (Gypsy with Patti), which I am beyond sure was the plan for Into the Woods, and for Oliver, as you noted.

-I do understand non-profits, I've worked 3 of the biggest ones in NYC theater, and yes making money is a part of it, and not losing money even more, but you are leaving out a the at least performance of the mission... which is to execute the mission. According to her mission, she accomplished it during the disastrous buzzed about with mockery and disdain season she led up until the summer production of Into the Woods. But going back to understanding non-profits... you've literally just claimed that the entire purpose of a non-profit is to not only make a profit but prioritize doing it however necessary.
Jack Viertel didn't put making a profit as the first and main duty as AD... he didn't turn an obscure musical with a non-celebrity star into a hit because it wasn't his job or purpose. He revived shows that deserved the Encores treatment. I do not by any means expect Lear to make a hit out of Baker Street ... I also don't expect to give her credit for some unique magic for taking one of the *most popular and beloved musicals in modern broadway history* and putting a *popular global singing star and broadway favorite in the lead role that she's perfectly suited for* and having it run *two months* or even six. This is not some extraordinary coup no one could have pulled off.
If Jack had scheduled Into the Woods with Sara Bareilles and a suggestion of a set, it would have transferred to broadway too. If any other new AD had done it, it would have too. I am absolutely 1000% positive if Jake Gyllenhaal had been able and willing to do Little Shop on broadway, that Encores would have transferred. And maybe even New Brain with Groff, and Violet with Sutton did go to Broadway. It wasn't a big hit, but it happened...
The main thing I am happy to give her more rapturous and unencumbered praise for is directing the production in a way that made it worthy of praise and brought these ensembles to such excellent shape with difficult material in a short period of rehearsal.
I am not trying to undersell the success of Into the Woods, I'm trying to keep perspective on it. And I don't see what's wrong with that. This is nothing against the production or Lear.

And yes, I, and most people who follow this or care, are looking much much MUCH more forward to next season's program, which is very exciting and well planned. I will admit I didn't have the new season in mind in the slightest when I jokingly suggested she leave her AD position to be a full-time rehearsing director of the many rounds of amazing castings that could go into ITW every month or two. But I also wasn't actually serious about that, I had hoped that was obvious but it may not have been. (however the line of that thread was about all the possible future replacements, who would no doubt need shorter commitments, and they can't all keep going in to this show and standing up to the reviews from the cast they opened it with if they're not being rehearsed thoroughly with the actual director of the show.
I actually agree that she has turned the ship of Encores under her reign around... with ITW making up for the prior season to a large degree (and while I don't think it will erase people's memory of the disastrous and much discussed season prior to ITW, I think it has overshadowed it for sure, and next season being programmed to be everything fans of the series would hope for, with what I'm going to guess will be inevitably worthwhile if not fantastic presentations of Parade, Dear World, Piazza and Oliver.

PS I'm a bit surprised you brought up the cache of seeing Ruthie channelling her horrific recent loss for the show... or the show thinking to profit off that connection... when I suggested that for similar reasons Danny Burstein might make an incredible Baker, I was basically told I was heartless evil and should be ashamed. You're right...and whether people like it or not that will be part of it, but still surprised to see you say it here.

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