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.


Rocco said...

I'm kind of embarrassed to admit this, but I totally forgot it was even a Kander & Ebb show. I remember wanting to see it before it opened, but then I never got to it, and forgot why I was interested in the first place.

In my defense, the ads don't really make that big a deal of it being a K&E musical. Some of them say "from the creators of Chicago and Caberet", but that could sorta mean anything.

I guess I should go catch it now.

carajoy said...

Well, see, that is a problem... I mean, again, because I'm not so sure who would have rushed to see it had they known, I'm not so sure it was a big problem. But, maybe.

quest1962 said...

Please don't forget that the Hirschfeld, nee Martin Beck, has LONG been known for housing good shows that didn't last as long as was expected.

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