Thursday, April 05, 2007

Who Are You Now?

I celebrate the first two days of Passover each year, so I haven't been around Broadway news much since the last post. I did, by the way, receive many emails about that last post. One of the comments left below (I had 3 whole comments!) and 6 of the emails were about how the news sites must have based their Daniel Everidge spelling on an incorrect press release. I do not believe that to be the case--both stories said their news was done in reaction to a video. So, there is the general answer to that.

On another front... Tonight, in addition to my blog emails, I had many notes about the Paper Mill Playhouse. Poor, poor Paper Mill. I have to say, I sort of blame Michael Gennaro, and not because he left and his departure affected this year's fundraising. But, because, while he was there, he showed a very limited knowledge of his audience. Gennaro came from Steppenwolf--which has a much more adventurous bunch of subscribers than Paper Mill. Paper Mill audiences like old traditional musicals--they don't like Baby and Harold and Maude (of course I'm not sure who would have liked that Harold and Maude, despite the fact that one of my favorite people was in it, but that's not the point). I know why Gennaro tried new things--he was afraid the NJPAC was taking away their old show business and he came from a place where new things are respected. I totally appreciate what he attempted--but it was always doomed. When he announced his first season, I was puzzled. So were many potential subscribers. In the end, his work alienated Paper Mill's core base. Paper Mill became a theater with an identity crisis. No one new what to expect from it and not in a "you have to run and catch it!" kind of way. And Gennaro, who is undoubtedly a smart guy, just didn't get it--I heard from countless people who worked there that he had no sense of where he was employed. He didn't get why Paper Mill couldn't attract big stars or more attention. When his reign was clearly going to go down as a disaster, he bailed. He left at a horrible time, which sucks for the theater, but what sucks more is he didn't leave earlier.

I for one have often liked my visits to Paper Mill, as cheesy as they may have been. Where else in the area could I have seen Funny Girl onstage? And, while I don't get why they choose Kiss Me, Kate and Little Shop, both of which have been seen recently on Broadway, I was looking forward to seeing Meet Me in St. Louis next season.

I hope the fundraising effort works and the theater survives. The board there clearly shares the blame with Gennero for what has happened--they didn't fund raise like they should and they backed him unwisely--but they don't deserve to be out of business. If you can, attend the fundraiser on Monday.

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