Sunday, July 23, 2006

After the Love is Gone

I've been following Hot Feet since workshop stage, never believing we'd ever see it on Broadway. Despite all my Hot Feet knowledge, I never actually knew how it really came to be, until I read the interesting New York Times story last week. I'm still not 100% sure what Susan Weaving was thinking. Was the William Morris vice president thinking: "Maurice Hines wants to do a musical Red Shoes and Maurice White wants to do something with the music of Earth, Wind & Fire--those two things would work so well together" (if she was, she was of course incorrect) OR was she actually just thinking: "Both of these people are named Maurice--I bet they'll get along"? (if she was, she was right). Whatever the story of its inception, Hot Feet will be remembered for some not so good things. But I want to take a moment to applaud something Maurice Hines did (snarky people, shut up).

Many of you may not know that, after critics went to the Hilton, Maurice Hines continued to work on Hot Feet. Why? I like to think it was because he wanted audience members to have the best experience possible. That is a rare thing in the theater--writers, directors and choreographers typically work until the reviewers see a production and then let it go. The product viewed by critics is typically the end product unless the show moves and downsizes (like Beauty and the Beast and its now 2 dancing forks) or something is shortened for costs (as the original Les Miz was). I've often heard creatives say: "I knew it was wrong, but I ran out of time to fix it, so it is what it is."

Hines, on the other hand, kept trying to perfect his vision. (I don't know why it took so many years to do so, but, that is beside the point right now.) He cut an entire number after most press had seen the show. He didn't do it for Ben Brantley--he did it for his musical. He did what he believed would make Hot Feet better for the people paying money to see it. So, on this sad day of Hot Feet's final dance, let's take a moment to appreciate that.

I want to encourage those in the business to follow Hines' lead, on just this one point. I only know three behind-the-scenes theater people who read this blog (a Drama Desk winner, "the future of musical theater" and a soon-to-be-big playwright) and I'm sure they'll listen--I hope everyone else does the same.


Jaime said...

i'm not one of the three readers you mentioned, so you can now count four. (though i think i know who one of those three is.) not sure what you'd call me there, but anyway. i love the idea of this post, but isn't there an equity rule about making changes after opening? i know you technically can't have extra rehearsals after previews. i'm sure there are ways around that, but, speaking from experience, it's not always 'well, it's been reviewed. whatever.' often enough it's 'i wish we had more time to work on this, but the show opens tomorrow, so this is what we have.'

carajoy said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
carajoy said...

Hey! Sorry I didn't mention you--I don't think I know you? But I am happy you're a reader. And thanks for leaving a comment! I get emails, but rarely comments...

I don't think you can require actors to do TONS of rehearsals post-opening--you can't go back into 10 out of 12 or anything. However I do believe creatives can continue to make some alterations and put them in. And I do believe that there is the opinion in this industry that work should simply stop after critics arrive. I know not everyone buys into that (I am sure there are a good amount of cases where people want to continue working), but I'm of the opinion that too many people do.

That being said, I genuinely do not know the exact Equity policy. So I am going to ask my Equity expert and post the response. Thank you for your comment because you raised a great point--one that I can't give an educated answer to right now.