One of our "All That Chat" forum members posted a
message this week which reminded me of how for the
longest time we always look at Broadway as the dying
invalid. Don Dunn, author of "The Making of No No
Nanette," obeserved in his post a comparison to
Broadway today and to Broadway of the early 1970's
when you could only find maybe a dozen shows listed
in the ABC's in the Times. For sure, at that time we
thought Broadway was dead. So many dark houses with a
The fact of the matter is that Broadway has been
dying for seventy years, but the ol' broad won't give
up. One would have to look at the history of Broadway
and the entire entertainment industry to understand the
changes which have occurred in the last seventy years or
longer. In 1900, there were 70 productions produced on
the Great White Way and then it peaked in 1928 with over
200 productions. Broadway was a mecca for entertainment
in New York until that year, then it began to wane as the
great depression of the thirties followed by the stock
market crash of '29 and the rise of the film industry
brought cheaper entertainment to the masses.
By 1952, there were only 29 new productions being
produced. The heydey was over, yet, since then, we
have had some of the greatest musicals ever produced on
the Broadway stage.
Along comes television and we have an even cheaper form
of entertainment, but the invalid called Broadway will never
succumb because film and T-V can never capture the magic
of live performances in the theater. Broadway will live
on long after you and I are on this earth. So, the next
time someone tells you that Broadway is dying, ask them
when is the last time they saw a Broadway show? If they
tell you that they have not seen anything recently, well, let
me ask you this, who or what do you think is really dying here?
Tidbits: Got a recent e-mail. "Dear V.J., Do you
think Side Show was another Carrie? Good
lord! While Side Show is considered a flop now, it
had its fans and detractors, but it was nothing like
Carrie. The best review of Carrie that I
can remember is some critic calling it "disgusting." I mean,
it was so bad it was good! Although the score had it's
moments, and surely you've heard it as any theater fan
owns a copy of the bootleg recording, but trust me, it was
bad. Side Show received good reviews and will go
down in history as the paradox of the 1997-98 season, the
hit show without an audience.
Jerry Zaks has, indeed, been called in to doctor up Paul
Simon's musical, The Capeman. It was reported in the
N.Y. Post a few days ago, but until it appeared in the Times,
as far as I'm concerned, it wasn't official as the writer
in the Post lacks credibility. Fun to read, but no credibility.
Anyhow, we hear if you saw the show in its initial previews
you wouldn't recognize it now as there have been many changes.
Zaks will, obviously, make many more changes in the musical
which is packed with thirty-six songs penned by Simon. Supposedly,
the show is about "forgiveness" and not the "glorification of
a murderer." I would hope so.
The best news of the day is that Lea DeLaria has been signed
to reprise her role in last summer's Central Park hit revival,
On The Town which is heading to Broadway this spring,
however, there will be a new choreorgrapher on board as Eliot
Feld got nailed in the reviews. Christopher D'Amboise, a
New York City Ballet dancer takes on the responsibilities.
On The Town is scheduled to open April 7th at the St.
James Theater...some confusion here as High Society
is supposedly booked here. Not to worry. With the recent
closings, it shouldn't be hard to find a home for either one.
Last year, while in Salzburg, Austria, I took an afternoon
tour on a bus. Well, we get to this park and we all get
off the bus and this wacky tour guide breaks into song...
"I Am Sixteen Going on Seventeen." I light a cigarette
and think to myself..."Yeah, right, you are sixteen but
you're going to Bellevue!" Then as we turned the corner,
there it stood, the wonderful gazebo that was used in the
film, The Sound of Music. Now, the whole crowd is
singing, and I'm thinking "Oh god, not The Sound of Mucus!
Halfway up the mountainside to Berchesgarten, it's pointed out...
a certain hillside and everyone is staring and taking
pictures. Why? They were all waiting for Julie Andrews
to come out from behind a tree, spinning and singing...
"The Hills Are Alive...."
Well, even though this area of the world has capitalized
on the success of the film, theatergoers will be able
to go back to this sacharine tale of the Von Trapp
family beginning Feb. 6th. Rebecca Luker stars as Maria.
And, we all hate the Sound of Music because of
the film's sugar coated story, right? But, I'll bet you know
every single song from the score. Even now, I'm humming
"The Lonely Goatherd." Admit it, we're all "closet"
Sound of Music fans. See you at the box office!
Broadway, dead? Not at all!
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