8/5/01
Talkin' BroadwayV.J.



Broadway ... it's a Baby Boomer thing!

While watching the Lifetime network the other night, I saw the film about Leo Frank and his lynching. I watched it intently. And yes I cried. And I thought about the Jason Robert Brown musical which played Lincoln Center a couple years ago. Yes, a limited run I know, but Parade should have transferred to Broadway. It was that good.

And then I thought of Michael John LaChiusa's The Wild Party, and Andrew Lippa's The Wild Party, both great productions. Why are these shows not running on Broadway right now? They deserve to be. They're so well crafted and so rewarding, it just makes me wonder.

Paul Gordon spent five years of his life working on Jane Eyre and that is gone too. I know most of the guys I'm writing about right now. I know Paul and his musical. When the final curtain came down I couldn't even speak to him. I was so stunned, and in tears, Jane Eyre was a beautiful and miraculous experience for me.

It's a Baby Boomer thing.

But, what do I know about the musical tastes of the ticket-buying public in New York? The New York Daily News interviewed me in March but never ran the article as far as I know. Perhaps, I was a bit too controversial. The question they asked me was, "Why is Broadway relying on familiar Hollywood vehicles for new musicals?"

"Of course, Saturday Night Fever, The Producers, The Full Monty come immediately to mind. And so does the misguided Seussical. While I love Mel Brooks and his musical, The Producers, and loved The Full Monty, Broadway has problems which need to be worked out in the next 20 years. How did I answer this reporter? Simple, I gave it to him between the eyes. "Right now, what is familiars is money spent well. That's all. Money spent on the risky, the adventurous, the experimental is money poorly spent. That's the Baby Boomer mentality. Nothing can be done to compete against it.

This will change, all things do, but now is not the time to expect the Baby Boomers to embrace the unexpected; it's simply not good economics, in their way of thinking.

It would help if there were writers in the journalism quarters championing New York ... namely at the important, Baby Boomer-read papers, i.e. The New York Times, The New Yorker, Time Magazine ... but the editors and critics there are doing a very poor job of analyzing new musical work. Ben Brantley (a Baby Boomer himself) isn't capable; John Simon and John Lahr are too old (in more ways than one), and the rest (with the exception of Howard Kissel of the New York Daily News, in my opinion), are pedestrian at best. There is no one to explain to Mr. and Mrs. Baby Boomer that new musical work could actually be good for them and for their children. Hell, thanks to Mr. and Mrs. Baby Boomer, we've seen a literal dissolution of arts programming in schools and colleges throughout the U.S. I'd go so far as to say that Baby Boomers are doing a pretty thorough job of destroying the country and its ideals. Oh, but don't tell them (or me ... I'm a Baby Boomer) that. They'll get very defensive.

I'm less interested in Baby Boomers now (after Showtune!). I'm more interested in the 18-20 year olds. They are the hope. Reach them, I say, and not their parents or grandparents. Funny how the self-described "unlost" generation of Baby Boomers is actually a lost generation: hypercritical and groundless, dispassionate and ineffective politically, artistically, and culturally. Rich, yes, but only monetarily."

It's a paradox for me. I just had a musical revue I wrote for a Las Vegas company called Showtune have an enormously successful 3-week run. It was nightly standing ovations. We move to the Pahrump Winery to do the show under the stars this week. One of the Broadway composers mentioned above warned me about writing a concept revue. But I ignored him. I knew what I was about to do was going to work. How? Simple. I just pushed the Baby Boomers buttons!

Showtune! opens at the Pahrump Winery Thursday, August 9th for a 3-day run, then I take it into rewrites, about 2 hours of work, before we plan a February run. Tickets are only 10 bucks, so if you're in Nevada head on over. Reservations can be held by calling (702) 263-6385. What the hell? You may as well see it for 10 bucks before I deliver it to a casino and their Baby Boomers for $29.95. ;)



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