6 Shows Too Awesome for Broadway
For far too long, Broadway has been trying to one up the rest of the pop culture world by being all “high brow” and full of people who can “act.” Well no longer. The fact is Broadway is no different than any other entertainment medium and, just as with TV and movies, Broadway can screw up. Big time. Like by letting shows destined for greatest falter and die out well before their time.
This was a musical based on a Stephen King horror novel. Seriously. There’s pig blood and dirty pillows and people being killed with the fierce power of a nerd girl’s mind. Carrie and her mom share touching songs about how all boys will rape you and how menstruating is a sin. And the lyrics rhymed. Later, an ensemble cast sings about slaughtering a pig featuring lyrics like “Chop! Kill the pig! Pig, pig! Kill, Kill!” which single handedly bitch slaps every weak ass song in the Rogers and Hammerstein playbook.
On the other hand Carrie had some technical issues, like being unable to actually dump blood on the main character during the prom scene as it would destroy her mic, and a piece of the set nearly decapitating the actress on opening night. Aside from that, the script went through several re-writes; songs were renamed and dumped altogether. Reviews compared it to the Hindenburg, and not because it was awesomely full of fire, but because it was, you know, apparently a disaster that killed 36 people. It also lost $8 million, something we can barely comprehend for a theatre production as, based on our experiences in public school, musicals can be funded entirely by one bake sale
Nothing says “musical” quite like revenge on the high seas. Add in an all girls school, dick jokes and crossdressers and clearly you have Herman Melville’s classic tale. In a nutshell, the writers had no idea how to adapt Moby Dick into a musical, so they made a musical in which the actors are trying to adapt Moby Dick into a musical. In a swimming pool. With dick jokes. At an all girl’s school. Coincidentally, that’s the way the plot lines to 75% of pornos start.
Moby Dick! has proved to be popular in an underground sort of way, as theatre about a cast of girls chasing a whale really only appeals to a certain subset of people who spend a lot of time watching Japanese cartoons. Nonetheless, the story of a girl’s school forced to put on a play to save themselves from bankruptcy probably isn’t exactly what Melville had in mind when he wrote the original story back in the mid 1800’s. For whatever reasons, the show tends to see life in high schools, where apparently an abundance of jokes about the word dick are seen as enriching for young minds.
Arguably one of Shakespeare’s most famous plays along with Romeo and Juliet, the tragedy of Hamlet explores madness, betrayal, murder and then a shitload more murder. But was it perfect? No. Shakespeare fucked up by leaving out the rock and roll. Thankfully, where Shakespeare failed, a man who wrote scripts for Anne Murray variety shows stepped up to the plate with the help of Meat Loaf, who makes everything better.
The play was staged like an actual rock concert, which we assume was about as ridiculous as it sounds and, in what had to be one of the most awesome (yet somber) moments ever staged anywhere, Ophelia commits suicide by strangling herself with a microphone cord. Whether this had anything to do with autoerotic asphyxiation is not known.
With songs named He Got it in The Ear and The Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Boogie we can only assume the entire play, had it lasted more than 4 days on Broadway, would have somehow united the world under a banner of peace and love.
Theatre so often gets saddled with the image of stodgy, boring, fancy-boy crap like Cats or Presidential Debates that no one really wants to see. But in the 70’s, some people were willing to take a risk to make Broadway into one wild, trippy scene of insanity complete with pyrotechnics and a pantload of bouncing.
Unfortunately, for the theatre crowd, incomprehensibility is a big issue, which is probably way this only lasted for 7 shows. Apparently if your musical makes less sense than trying to decipher the ravings of a street corner drunkard at 3am, not a lot of people are willing to see it. Even when the producers included an insert in the playbill that explained what the fuck was going on, full of helpful hints like “they were spinning cone-shaped hats to help control their emotions,” audiences were somehow unenthused.
On the upside, the characters in the show were painted blue and everyone jumped on trampolines. We’re not even sure more needs to be said. But if it does, it should be pointed out that the main character, the focus of this precursor to the Blue Man Group, was a garbage man from outer space who does his job in a clamshell. Given that this took place in the 70’s, how this didn’t become an instant hit with every pothead or Quaalude-laced dance enthusiast boggles the mind.
Remember how you wished Broadway could somehow be more emo and homoerotic? Well thank God someone listened and turn Anne Rice’s creation Lestat into a musical, because if there’s one thing theatre needs, it’s more singing, gay vampires.
Even though the show only lasted about a month on Broadway and was compared to prescription sleeping pills in the New York Times, you have to appreciate a musical adaptation of the story of people who eat people, even if it’s muddle in existential crap and clumsy prose.
The upside to the show is it’s likely the closest you’ll ever get to seeing what Elton John would be like as a monster, which is probably something you’ve never pondered before but are thinking about now. Of course that’s not the real selling point, and it being boring as shit isn’t the reason Broadway couldn’t handle it. The real reason is impressionably goth and emo chicks. No one likes broody, sexually ambiguous (which is to say gay) vampires more than girls dressed in black from head to toe. If this play had worked, it would have cemented Broadway as a surefire way to get virginal My Chemical Romance fans laid.
There are very few absolutes in the universe but one thing that is true in all places and at all times is that musicals and comic books go together so well it very nearly is insane to ponder them not going together. In fact, it may make you insane to try to fathom a world devoid of Spiderman in musical form.
Spiderman, of course, is the tale of a boy bitten by a radioactive spider that gives him powers which he then uses to fight crime and a legendary group of villains. Musicals, of course, are stage shows in which large groups of people inexplicably break out in song. It was only a matter of time before these two forces of nature crossed paths and with a little help from the only guys in U2 people know the names of, it happened.
Bono and the Edge decided to make Spider-man into a slack ass type modeled on Kurt Cobain, because that makes sense. And the expected budget is $45 million. And that apparently doesn’t involve gold plated seats for audience members.
The thing about Spiderman is it hasn’t actually opened on Broadway yet, it’s just bombed already in anticipation of opening, a feat very few shows can pull off. It’s expected, if the money can come through, to actually begin early next year, likely to glowing reviews from people who are thrilled that Irish rock stars re-wrote the story of Spiderman and set it to music.