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 Original producers Jonathan Pollard, Dena Hammerstein and Bernie Kukoff have been replaced by another three, Scott Landis, Emanuel Azenberg and Ann Marie Wilkins.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.