Sunday, August 26, 2007

The Day the Drama Died

Those of you who know me, know I LOVE The Little Mermaid. I have been waiting for the musical for years. So I will have to dedicate a full post to its out-of-town opening, but, well, this is not that post. Because something more important happened this week than the out-of-town openings of The Little Mermaid and that other musical that I'm bound to find overrated. That important event was the closing of The Year of Magical Thinking. Please a moment of silence.

Ok, that was enough. You may ask--why does Cara think the closing of The Year of Magical Thinking is that important? Will she missed the falling backdrops? In fact, I believe the closing was important because, without Magical Thinking, there are no plays on Broadway. Musicals are all that you'll find on Broadway today. This will be true until mid-September.

In response to my Fringe post, someone commented that I am a Broadway baby. There is a point there, though I do go see tons of off-Broadway and one of my good friends is Bradford Louryk, which automatically should give me some non-Broadway cred. (And I have indeed enjoyed Fringe shows in the past, as I noted.) But even more than being a Broadway baby, I'm a musical girl. I like me some singing. That being said, I also enjoy straight plays and I believe it is important to keep a mix at all times. So I'm sad that there are no plays on the Great White Way currently.

Of course for years we've been hearing that long-running musicals are killing the business for plays. As costs increase, each show must rely heavily on tourists and most tourists seemingly prefer musicals. This makes is a tough road for any straight play. But, it's important to note, we can't blame the musicals totally this time around. We have to focus on the fact that many of last season's plays were mediocre. Plus, a lot of them were limited--Utopia could have run longer (though if it were in a commercial house, making money would have been a really, really difficult trick) and possibly others. But, actually, I still contend that a lot of it was them being mediocre. If Inheret The Wind was a huge smash, would there not have been an attempt to recast? Duh. But it wasn't. The new plays fared worse. Vertical Hour? Doesn't it seem like 4 seasons ago? And I really feel like Little Dog was at least two years ago. I know people are going to taught the failure of Journey's End, which critics loved, as evidence that it's not the show, it's the audience (or lack thereof). But I consider Journey's End, because of it's subject matter, a hard sell even if there were only plays running. That to me is an exception.

So are we getting less plays than we used to get? Yes. Are musicals taking a large portion of the audience? Yes. Those are points that undoubtedly contribute to the fact that we currently have no Broadway plays. Yet the quality and appealability (that's my new fake word--billy, i expect it in a play) of the plays that we do have, must be considered in this discussion.

OK, that's it for me. I had wanted to talk about why I think Annaleigh Ashford is going to make a good Glinda, based on her performance in Joe Iconis' The Black Suits (though I have trouble picturing her and the pirate queen in the same school class), but it doesn't seem to go with this discussion, so, eh, maybe Wednesday.

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