On a day when the big drama was unfolding in Washington, D.C., only Barry and Fran Weissler could take the spotlight away from President-elect George Bush. Yesterday, Rosie O'Donnell announced on her nationally syndicated television show that she would be taking on the role of the Cat in the Hat in Seussical as of Jan 16, 2001 for a limited run. It is said that David Shiner is taking a 4 week vacation. Me thinks it's a stroke of genius by the very savvy Weisslers.
Seussical has been in trouble since Boston and much has been written and said about the show, its stars and its creative team. The reviews pretty much trashed the show and the word of mouth has been dismal, at best. So, what do you do with an eleven million dollar turkey? You get rid of your star and bring in Rosie and watch your box office triple its daily revenues in one day, that's what. Pure genius!
There has been so much talk about the Internet and how it has affected Seussical, and it makes me laugh. Barry and Fran just proved that the Internet has no affect on Broadway's box offices. I've said this all along. The chatterati of the Web are a more informed theatre-goer and not just your average theatre-goer. And there is a big difference. The chatterati see everything regardless of reviews. It's the average theatre-goer that makes or breaks a show. Here's a prime example of what will probably happen. Bryan Batt will be doing two matinees a week and Rosie will be doing the other six performances. The chatterati will go to the matinees, and the average theatre-goer will be attending the evening performances.
Will Shiner be back on February 13th? Or will a revolving door star policy take over the ill-fated production? That remains to be seen, but the Weisslers have bought themselves some time during the slow winter months to figure out how they are going to market, and perhaps, salvage Seussical. If anyone can, it's them. So savvy are they that they pulled an old David Merrick trick in last Sunday's New York Times by using a pull quote from a pan. "A sure-fire hit!" was attributed to Michael Riedel of the New York Post. Riedel simply laughed it off and said the show was doomed anyway. I dunno know Michael, Barry and Fran just may pull a rabbit out of that hat.
See you Sunday!
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