Friday, December 16, 2011

Another One Bites the Dust

I've often liked musicals that weren't beloved by the critics. Don't ask me why. I thought Catch Me If You Can was wonderful. I liked the music, the plot line was familiar. The acting was well done. It made me smile. Catchy tunes? I thought so. Sadly, the critics were not fans and that show closed after 166 performances and 32 previews. From the first preview to the final performance, it was less than six months.

A show I would have loved to have seen was Wonderland. I'd been following it (online, of course) for a couple of years. When I found out it was coming to Broadway, I was very excited. Critics slammed it. It closed after 30 previews and 33 performances. It was there less than two months. The worst part? It closed on May 15th, the very same day I got into New York for a week long trip. I never got to see it. My only hope to see it now is if a tour happens, or in regional and/or community theatre.

Up next? Bonnie & Clyde a New Musical (written by the same person who wrote Wonderland). When I first saw clips of the show, I thought to myself, "this is a show that I will want to see!" They followed up by some songs that were released on their website and facebook page. I loved them all. So there are two for two. The clips were good, the music was fantastic (all my opinion, of course). I knew I'd need to make a trip to New York to see this one. Previews started November 4th. The show opened December 1st. Critics slammed it and an official closing announcement was made today that the show would be concluding it's Broadway run on December 30th. Once again: less than two months total. Once again, a show I'll not get to see.

I have a few opinions about critics AND producers when it comes to Broadway shows. I understand that the point of a Broadway show is to make money. I'm not naive. I get it. I understand that critics review shows for a living. That's their job. They are paid for their opinion. I get that. Once again, I'm not stupid. BUT there are some things that don't make a whole lot of sense to me.

First: critics are not the be all end all of theatre. Sure, they know their stuff. It's why they get paid to do what they do. But I believe that some critics look for things to pick on. Not every Broadway show looks the same. Not every show sounds the same. Not every show is meant for the same audience. I'd rarely take the same people to a showing of RENT or American Idiot as I would a showing of Oklahoma! or Phantom of the Opera (yes, I'm aware that only one of these shows is currently open on Broadway). My point: sometimes critics let their opinions of what they like personally, cloud their view of how well a show is written, directed, staged, etc. Just because you don't like the show Mr. (or Ms.) Critic, doesn't mean someone won't like it.

Critiques should be non-biased. They should look at the quality of the show. They should look at the quality of the talent. They should look at quality of the direction. And they should write about it. Even when I am not a fan of a show, I try to bring out the things about the show that I did like. I try my best to let it be known that while I may not like a story, I am doing my best to look at the show in as unbiased way as possible.

Secondly, producers need to give shows a chance. I understand that money is an issue. But word of mouth is a powerful thing. An audience fan base is an amazing thing. Social media is an amazing thing. And sometimes things just take a little while to catch on. Would Wonderland or Bonnie & Clyde have ever made a turn around? I can't say for sure. But I know the online support for Bonnie & Clyde has been incredible since it was first rumored that the show would be closing. A vast majority of audience goers that I have seen online were saying that they loved the show.

My opinion on that? It is a really crappy time to open a show. Right before Christmas. In an economy like this. Not a smart move. I'm seeing very few shows and doing very little for myself right now. All of my extra money is going toward buying Christmas presents. Period. I think if producers had given Bonnie & Clyde a chance to take off after the holidays, this might be a very different story. But we won't ever know for sure.

All in all, I think critics are too quick to judge a show based on their personal likes and dislikes and producers are too quick to close a show that isn't earning money right away. Either way, let's just hope the world will remember Bonnie & Clyde. Because I don't see any miracles happening to keep the show open. The only positive out of the whole deal is that lead Jeremy Jordan will be free to reprise his role in Disney's Newsies when it makes it's journey to Broadway.

Do you think critics are unjust in their reviews at times? Do you think producers are too quick to pull the plug?

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