Sunday, March 30, 2008


Is dealing with drama out-of-town. She'll post Wednesday.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Inside My Mind

Some quick hits:

Now that A Tale of Two Cities is apparently happening, I guess I have to stop calling it "Masada, The Second." Oh, well.

The big question of the week to me is: What will Glory Days do to the Tony race? It's out-of-town reviews were not like 'this is the best thing ever.' But, yet, it will almost surely earn a Best Musical Tony nom. How about the actors races? One lead, one featured? I'd bet book and score, because we like to support young-uns. So, that's a lot of noms.

Gavin Creel in Godspell. Wow, that's the most exciting choice ever. (Sarcasm.) I mean, I like Gavin, I do, but I was hoping for someone a) with some outside name recognition or b) someone very different. Maybe that is just me. I know people love Mr. Creel.

Is anyone else not at all surprised at the Rent extension? I mean, nothing closes in June. Don't be ridiculous. So when I heard about the ticket rush for the "final" performance I was like--"UMM.. that's so not the final performance!" I mean, come on. Why are you spending $7000 for a ticket to a performance in June? (Yes, I know--why are you spending that much for a performance anytime?!? but, that's another story.) I mean, they are letting people exchange tickets for one final to the other... This is "subject to certain restrictions," but it's still nice.

Poor Mask. All these years and still not great. I saw the long ago concert and I liked the score, but it wasn't a show and the score didn't go with the book. The composers held out for tons of money and some other drama stuff and so for years no one would do it. Now, someone finally has and the critics don't like it. Is it a surprise a show has been sitting around for years and still hasn't been improved? I wish it was, but it's not. (NOTE: I did get two emails from non-theater people who saw a photo from the show and had to email. So, maybe there is an audience for it, regardless. Though I'm not sure these people who actually attend.)

I believe I've written here before that I LOVE Pamela's First Musical, the book. So please go see the BC/EFA benefit of the musical. Support it, applaud loudly and then one day maybe we'll see a fully staged version of the musical. I've been waiting...

Who is Sam Thielman at Variety and why is he incompetant? I mean, normally I tend not to blame the journalist because it could be the editor. But, in this case, I doubt it is the editor. First he wrote Julia Murney was part of the current cast of Wicked (umm... no) and then, in another story, he wrote this sentence: "Williamstown Theater Festival has announced the rest of its '08 lineup: a new production of Christopher Durang's "Beyond Therapy" with Kate Burton will be directed by Les Freres Corbusier A.D. Alex Timbers at the Bay Street Theater in Sag Harbor, opening July 8." Well, yeah--the Williamstown cast will also be seen at Bay Street. But... what is the quoted sentence missing? Umm... maybe the Williamstown dates? Any mention that it will also be at Williamstown? I'm just saying...

That's it. Rest time.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

You Could Be Dancin', Yeah...

I don't have much to say tonight (I am a little exhausted), but I do want to talk about Dancin'. I'm surprised not more has been made of this huge step into commercialism by Roundabout.

I know previously I've discussed my support of Roundabout doing random money-making things. Because, in general, I think people that put on big shows should be entitled to make money to support them. Roundabout has many times previously taken a show that commercial producers just couldn't manage to get on and done it. One past example is The Pajama Game. Another example is the upcoming Pal Joey. But Dancin' is a little different.

Back in the fall when news surfaced of this Dancin' it was to be a commercial Broadway revival with a Toronto tryout. For whatever reason, that plan did not work out. So now we have a Roundabout production at Studio 54 produced in association with Greg Young, Elaine Krauss, Dancap Productions and Richard Levi. It is of course standard procedure to list the commercial producers, as these are the people that are hoping the show is a huge hit and they can move it and capitalize on its hit status. So, the deal is, for those of you who know nothing about the industry, it takes a lot less money to get something on at a non-profit because of a lot of factors, especially LORT actor contracts which allow for lower salary minimums. Like, they knew Love Musik was iffy commercially. So the commercial producers put it on in association with MTC in the hopes that people will love it and they'll be able to move it. If it is not well-loved (which was the case with Love Musik), the commercial producers lose a lot less money than they would have if they put it directly in the Belasco. But this is all usually (with some exception) done behind-the-scenes. It's not something you would know unless, well, you knew.

The Dancin' announcement has something markedly different about it-- the statement "that "A national tour of DANCIN' will open in the fall of 2009" following the Roundabout mounting. That makes it clear that this is a commercial endeavor right from the get-go. Of course, I'm sure if it is a bomb, the tour will be scrapped. But its announcement says something.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

RIP Curtains

Well, Curtains will end its New York run on June 29. It will have run almost a-year-and-a-half, which is a healthy run... but it has yet to make back its $10million capitalization and it is doubtful that it will.

There is an odd thing about Curtains--it was a show that lasted a while, had a great lead who won a Tony, was fun, and yet never had a tremendous amount of buzz. (Despite a very committed press agent.) To me personally, before it came, there was a certain excitement about seeing a new Kander & Ebb musical. But that excitement never reached the masses. That's not to say the show didn't sell at all--it's still around, which is saying a lot... But it was never a show that a great amount of people were like "We MUST see this."

Why not? You know, when Curtains opened, it had that old-fashioned feel and I thought it would attract people who wanted to see that sort of thing. It had great dance numbers. The song Thataway, which was catchy. Two strong lead performances, one by a television name. So it had things going for it... (And it's hard for me to say that about anything with Karen Ziemba in it.) But, most of all, it should have had going for it the Kander & Ebb label.

There are very few musical theater songwriters who are famous. Kander & Ebb are famous. The general public doesn't know that in addition to hits they've made flops. They just know their names and thus associate them with hits. But, even Kander & Ebb apparently don't have names that are marketable enough to sell a show with a named star automatically. (Yes, I am sure their name sold some tickets, but not an astounding amount by any means.) Which leads me to think--is there any songwriting team who could truly sell tickets to a contemporary, non-theater savvy audience? If someone uncovered an unheard Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, would it sell enough tickets in advance to really build up super-buzz? I don't think so...

Now--the second part of this inquiry is... Is that sad? Part of me thinks it is. Part of me wishes tons of people rushed out and bought tickets to see a new Charles Strouse musical. But, the other part thinks--maybe shows should stand and fall on their own. But that's never the case. Every show brings with it the reputation of not only its songwriters, but its stars and creative team. So it's never just about the plot and the quality. And, thinking about it that way, it does make me sad that the general public no longer supports certain songwriters. It shows a lack of respect for theater history, in a way. Then again, we all know so few people care about theater in general anymore. It doesn't really surprise me that you can't continually fill a theater with Kander & Ebb fans. You can fill a theater with Julia Roberts fans, but, she's not a theater person. And that says it all.

It's late. I'm tired. I've lost track of where I was going with this. Musings for the night over.

Monday, March 17, 2008

I get my coffee...

Greetings from Long Island, where I am dealing with yet another family situation. My life is exciting, isn't it?

In The Times article about Young Frankenstein today, Campbell Robertson doesn't discuss my favorite point: That all the new commercials prominently display the phone number, which is 1-888-Mel-Brooks (or 1-888-Mel-Broo), seemingly saying, "Hey, you may hate Young Frankenstein, but remember who wrote it! You love Mel Brooks!" That number might have been around before the bad reviews, but never have I seen it so much...

Anyway, the biggest news of the past week (the news I ignored on Wednesday) was the "huge success" of In The Heights. I have yet to see it on Broadway and I'm excited to one day do so... I hope all its problems were fixed in transfer. But I want to take a look, as I often do, at how spin frequently takes over from fact.

I was out Sunday night and I kept getting calls about the "rave" Times review for the show. Sample caller: "Cara, did you read the Times review? It's so good..." Then, when I got home, I did read the review. (I try not to read reviews before I see the production, but, because I saw this off-Broadway, I figured it was semi-safe.) Am I the only one who didn't read it as a rave? I mean--here is what I got from it: this guy is great, his music is top-notch and the choreography is interesting, but the story isn't good. That to me isn't a rave. That's like: go see it for this guy and his tunes, but the show needs work it didn't get in the transfer. Now, it does say "go see it" but it's still not a rave, in my mind. Yet the spin is so "RAVE." That's all I hear. I'm happy to hear that people are excited about something--especially something that can bring in a new audience--but I often wonder why spin takes over on some shows and doesn't on others. The same thing happens out-of-town--I think I mentioned before that for a while the buzz was randomly that Cry-Baby got across-the-board GREAT reviews, when, in fact, that isn't true. And, again, if the people are excited, I'm excited about that excitement, but.... I'm confused by it as well.

Perhaps there is a bent to support new artists in the theater? A Catered Affair won the majority of San Diego critics awards over Cry-Baby yet the NY buzz on that was much softer on that out-of-town. Of course the reasoning could be that Cry-Baby is THE NEW JOHN WATERS MUSICAL and A Catered Affair is a musical version of a movie I did not remember seeing... But, the reasoning could also be based on the fact that (despite this being Bucchino's first Broadway show) Cry-Baby seems like it has a hipper team attached to it... And we like to support hip teams more... (Someone is going to point out that Cry-Baby is more of a big crowd-pleaser and so the positive reviews of that were more like 'this is great fun!' and that is natural based on the subject matter... but I contend there is more to it.)

I believe the desire to support young theater artists is a perfectly valid one. So I am not attacking it. And I'm not saying that's the reason for overly-positive spin reviews of certain shows receive. I'm just saying that is one possible theory behind it. I'm sure there are many more... (Thus ends the disclaimer portion of the evening.)

Now I need to get something to eat. Until Wednesday...

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Dear Little Girl

I’m very excited I got back just in time for news to surface of the return of They All Laughed!, er, “The Untitled Gershwin Project.” It was back in 2001 when I first saw this show. It was already on at least its second director—right before Goodspeed, Christopher Ashley had to step in for a then-hot John Rando.

The show was tremendously troubled—it was somewhat enjoyable, but very slight and confused. Though for years after I kept hearing about rewrites and new readings. Joe DiPietro was working away on it. But, honestly, I never thought we’d see it again. I maybe blame Drowsy Chaperone for this Gershwin return, because Drowsy made people think an old-fashioned musical could sell. (Now, note, I personally never thought Drowsy was an old-fashioned musical, but I’m talking about other people’s conception.) Before that, the last new, old-fashioned musical was maybe Never Gonna Dance… and we know how that turned out.

Anyway, so it’s back. Now, interestingly, Christopher Ashley is out, Kathleen Marshall is in. And the show is, in theory, heading for a December Boston tryout in preparation for a Broadway bow next year. Original producers Jonathan Pollard, Dena Hammerstein and Bernie Kukoff have been replaced by another three, Scott Landis, Emanuel Azenberg and Ann Marie Wilkins.

Will we ever see it? Well, Azenberg is a big name, so that adds some weight to the whole thing. I’m not holding my breath or anything, but, that’s something. But the bigger question is—if we see it, why? We all know how DiPietro’s last big Broadway attempt at taking on an old catalog, All Shook Up, went. (Note that Ashley directed that one.) Plus, Broadway has seen a Gershwin revue before. Well, actually, one concert-like revue, Fascinating Rhythm, and one new musical incorporating old songs, Crazy For You. Just as Crazy For You was loosely based on Girl Crazy, They All Laughed was loosely based on Oh, Kay!. So do we really need it?

I mean, I’m all for supporting brilliant musical comedies. I’m a musical girl. But, let’s face it, we know this isn’t going to be genius. The most we can hope for is fun. And, if that’s all it’s about, isn’t Crazy For You a safer bet?

Just musing… I will of course be excited to see the new They All Laughed. I like fun and hopefully it will be that. That being said, I don’t know if I’d mount it for $12 million, but, then again, I live in a tiny studio apartment, so, it’s not like I’m mounting anything for $12 million.

Monday, March 10, 2008


Cara is again not available to post tonight. She will return Wednesday.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

A.C. Slater's full name? Anyone?

I am back... and would like to extend my own personal welcome to Mario Lopez. When are we getting Tiffani Amber Thiessen and Mark-Paul Gosselaar? Oh my god, why did they not do Barefoot in the Park?

So I got back on Monday, but I haven't had much time to catch up on the gossip, as I've been catching up on, I don't know, actual work. Thus this will be a more general topic.... Secrets of a Soccer Mom. Clearly, this is going after the Menopause the Musical audience.... but does it really have the name to capture them?

It's a marketing issue, I believe. Because Menopause had a genius title--like I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change. But Secrets of a Soccer Mom could be ANYTHING. It could be about affairs, ala Desperate Housewives. But it's not. It centers on mother's talking about their lives at a soccer game. How do you make that seem interesting in marketing materials? Because there is an audience out there for it--it's the Menopause audience. But you have to know how to target them.

This is what Ken Davenport and his team does so well--target his audience. There is a crowd for Altar Boyz, Awesome 80s Prom and My First Time, but all three of those titles easily could have bombed. The reason they succeed is because of the way they come across, which is young and fun. And the right people got that message.

So let's first look at the Secrets website. First of all, on the flash it says "under the expert direction of Judith Ivey" credited to The Times and on the inside is a quote from the Times that says "the knowing direction of Judith Ivey." But, moving on. The champagne and theatre boutique is a clever ploy. The website is in general cute, which keeps the focus on that this is a comedy. So that's all good--but they need to get people to the website or the theater. It's not like everyone is just going there randomly.

My friend's mother lives in the NJ suburbs and belongs to a community group that sees theater. I saw her at a party a couple of weeks ago and I asked her if she was going to see Secrets of a Soccer Mom , but she hadn't heard of it. Now I'm sure they've done press and ads in The Record and Star Ledger... So why hadn't she internalized any of it? She is the audience... And I don't know the answer. Is it maybe that there needs to be flyers at the supermarket? This seems like a show perfect for train station and supermarket cart promotion. How about ads in the Pennysaver? Is anyone with me? That's really the audience that needs to be pitched and pitched again. I mean, my friends aren't going... It's all about these soccer moms. And these are busy women--you need to keep pushing for them in places you know they'll be.

Anyway, so I have no idea what I was thinking of that, but there you go. It will be interesting to see this in the long-run. We all know the audience is there. They have nothing else to go to. But we don't know if they'll come in droves to the Snapple Center. Stay tuned.

Sunday's post will hopefully be less random. Now I'm off to watch Project Runway.

Sunday, March 02, 2008


Cara is still dealing with a family emergency. She should be back by Wednesday.