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Why Are Some Musicals So Rarely Performed?

I live in the LA area and go to a LOT of local theater -- mostly musicals (of course.) I mean probably an average of 30-40 productions a year. I'e seen "Avenue Q" four times; "The Full Monty" four times, multiple productions of "Merrily We Roll Along," "Company," "Sweeney Todd," "Miss Saigon," "Guys and Dolls", "Gypsy," "Putnam County Spelling Bee," "West Side Story," "The Drowsy Chaperone," "City of Angels," "Many of La Mancha," "La Cage Aux Folles," "Hair," "Urinetown," etc. But I've NEVER, not once, not even on one of my every-few-years trips to NYC seen:


Hello, Dolly

Funny Girl

The Sound of Music

On A Clear Day You Can See Forever

Paint Your Wagon


Bells Are Ringing

and others ...

Any ideas why these seem to be so rarely performed, at least in my area?

by Anonymousreply 4512/21/2012

Add to your list everything Frank Loesser ever wrote, and all Cole Porter musicals that aren't "Anything Goes."

by Anonymousreply 112/11/2012

A big part of the reason is cost. A lot of them are relatively cheaper to do, because they have few sets and few costume changes. "Putnam County Spelling Bee" is popular, for example, because there's only one (very simple) set, five actors, and only one set of costumes for each of them. Moreover, the orchestra required is relatively small (and can be done fairly easily and convincingly with just a piano.) "My Fair Lady," in contrast, requires multiple sets, at least three full costume changes for every cast member, a giant cast, and a full orchestra... and everyone has to be able to do a convincing British accent.

by Anonymousreply 212/11/2012

R1 "Guys and Dolls" is on my list of stuff I have seen. But now that you mention it, I've never seen "How to Succeed" as the two recent revivals did not coincide with my NYC visits. I also saw "Most Happy Fella" once at Reprise (LA's version of "Encores.")

by Anonymousreply 312/11/2012

OP, another reason is that some of the ones you list aren't very good on their own, but were successful originally because they were vehicles for big stars (Carol Channing, Angela Lansbury, Barbra Streisand, Barbara Harris, Judy Holliday). Without a dazzling star in the central role to carry the whole thing, "Mame," "Hello Dolly," "Funny Girl" "On a Clear Day," and "Bells are Ringing" all fall flat.

by Anonymousreply 412/11/2012

OP, it depends if you want to see commercial theater or regional. Regional theater like Paper Mill Playhouse, Walnut Street Theatre etc. on the East Coast do a lot of the classics. The stuff you're referencing is touring stuff. Find a self producing theater near you that will do shows like Hello, Dolly! and Mame. Surely in the metro LA area there must be some theaters that are doing those shows.

by Anonymousreply 512/11/2012

Well, there are no stars to fill those so called "Big Lady Shows" like MAME, DOLLY (and you saw what happened with FUNNY GIRL's revival) Back in the day you still had a few old second and third tier broads from tv and film that could bring in an audience and had the personality to pull them off.

Our local professional (Equity) theater 20 years ago would toss in an interesting show (GRAND TOUR, SWEENEY before Sondheim was deified etc) adn those shows would play to half empty houses. The now are on a rotating schedule of ANNIE, WEST SIDE STORY, OLIVER! etc so every few years all those chestnuts come around again. If you go to Papermill the geriatic set are bussed in. Same thing at Goodspeed, where the medium audience age seems to be 65.

Those other hows have a built in audience due to fact they are fairly recent, still in recent memory and if the tour hasn't been through, then probably the movie has.

You're not going to see a major revival of one of the classics running and not closing at a loss (SOUTH PACIFIC was the exception and I thought very overrated). I didn't care for the revival of FINIAN but at least it has a great score but the audience just wasn't there. The life span for a revival in NY is generally pretty limited. I also think there is a lack of imagination (or too much mis-imigination). Look at the fucked up most recent GUYS & DOLLS (compared to the 89 revival) or the jaw dropping travesty of ON A CLEAR DAY-case in point. NINE ran on Banderas's name but compare the original production and the coupe de theatre ..flooding the stage?

Frankly I think AIDS and just the demise of director as "auteur""robbed NY theater of a great many truly innovative artists and the current crop of names are hacks or moderate talents or it is just putting a movie on stage (Stroman? Give me a break! Mel Brooks musicals? Seriously? SHREK)

I never thought LA was much of a 'theater" town really.

Broadway has become rather dismal.

by Anonymousreply 612/11/2012

Mame was revived on Broadway once, in the early 80's with Angela.

A new revival starring Christine Baranski was tried in Washington DC but didn't make it to NYC.

Many of these shows are too big for NYC revivals.

by Anonymousreply 712/11/2012

Gee, I could have sworn I recently saw a NYC revival of ON A CLEAR DAY...

And at NYC Encores, I saw BELLS ARE RINGING...

by Anonymousreply 812/11/2012

LA and Orange County have a HUGE theater scene, probably second only to NY (or maybe Toronto) in North America. There are dozens of 99-seat Equity waiver theaters, and a lot of small community theaters. And of course an abundance of talent that is usually unemployed at any given time.

The link below is to LA Stage Alliance, and it shows 67 shows are currently playing. And that number doesn't include theaters that don't list through their website, or ones that are not in the immediate area.

by Anonymousreply 912/11/2012

Well, it ain't Broadway, but The Sound of Music is currently on the east coast. . .

by Anonymousreply 1012/11/2012

We have the D & M musical playing right now in LA. FAB!


by Anonymousreply 1112/11/2012

I disagree about the recent "South Pacific" revival on Broadway. It received great reviews and had excellent 'word of mouth.' But, it is a musical that requires a lot of effort to get right. The one exception was the concert at Carnegie Hall with Reba McEntire as Nellie and Brian Stoles Mitchell. So the glorious musical can work in a concert version with the right stars.

by Anonymousreply 1212/11/2012

I'm with you OP. I tend to like the classic musicals but it's the newer shows that sell. I've also seen productions of all the shows you mentioned. I'd be first at the box office if someone would do

110 in the Shade

Do I Hear a Waltz?

On a Clear Day

Golden Boy

Li'l Abner

The Unsinkable Molly Brown


The Pajama Game

and one that I really want to see a professional production of


by Anonymousreply 1312/11/2012

[quote]Without a dazzling star in the central role to carry the whole thing, "Mame," "Hello Dolly," "Funny Girl" "On a Clear Day," and "Bells are Ringing" all fall flat.

Funny Girl was the first show I saw in New York. I did see one regional production 10 years ago with Stephanie J. Block.

True about Mame and Dolly.. you need a star in the lead..

by Anonymousreply 1412/11/2012

3-D Theatricals has "Funny Girl" scheduled for Fullerton and Redondo Beach early next year.

R13 I did see "110 in the Shade" at the Pasadena Playhouse a few years back, "Lil Abner" at Reprise, and "Pajama Game" in Glendale.

by Anonymousreply 1512/11/2012

Funny Girl is a bitch and a half to produce. You need a Jewish girl who can belt out those songs, act, dance and be funny. Plus there are a zillion costume changes. It's such a difficult show to put over.

by Anonymousreply 1612/11/2012

Bells Are Ringing is a fun show but it's a bit dated. It has always been a second rate show with a couple of good numbers.

Sound of Music has all those kids.

Paint Your Wagon and On A Clear Day are a bit on the boring side.

by Anonymousreply 1712/11/2012

[R13]: Goodspeed did a revival of "Carnival" two or three years ago and so too did Encores with Stokes Mitchell and Anne Hathaway. It's a lovely, sweet show with a wonderful Bob Merrill score. I missed the original. Damn it!

by Anonymousreply 1812/11/2012

The Sound of Music, the most popular Rodgers and Hammerstein musical with the public, has had only one (unsuccessful) Broadway revival.

It must be because the film is still on TV a lot. Can't be because Mary Martin, the original Broadway star, is essential. Peter Pan and South Pacific have been done well by other actresses.

by Anonymousreply 1912/11/2012

"You call that THEATER!?"

by Anonymousreply 2012/11/2012

It could also have to do with licensing fees.

by Anonymousreply 2112/11/2012

"Paint Your Wagon' Is great on stage, moves fast, lots of fun. The film version was so awful, they should have been forced to change the title.

by Anonymousreply 2212/11/2012

I'd love to see a staged version of Lady in the Dark. They did it for the very first season of Encores!, and Christine Ebersole was ideally cast as Liza Elliott, but she was overmiked (which was stupid since she has such a powerful voice anyway).

Tony Goldwyn was Charlie Johnson, and that great queen who played the food critic on Frasier was Russell Paxton.

But I'd love to see the whole thing again.

by Anonymousreply 2312/11/2012

I saw Jane Morgan in "Lady in the Dark" - it was a great show.

by Anonymousreply 2412/11/2012

[quote]Back in the day you still had a few old second and third tier broads from tv and film that could bring in an audience and had the personality to pull them off.

Sally Struthers is still packing 'em in at the Ogunquit Playhouse every summer in Maine. She did HELLO, DOLLY! there not too long ago. Charles Busch performed his AUNTIE MAME there too, a show less often done than MAME.

When I was a kid in the 70s every little theater in America was doing You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown, The Fantastiks, Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris, Man of La Mancha, Stop the World, I Want to Get Off! and 1776. Those have all fallen from favor (and they've taken Brigadoon with them.)

In the late 80s our local summer theater critic fired a shot across the bow, informing producers statewide that she and audiences alike had had quite enough of They're Playing Our Song. She warned that no further productions would be attended or reviewed and added, "Frankly, Vernon and Sonia, I don't give a damn!"

by Anonymousreply 2512/11/2012

OP...some of the shows you listed may be difficult to produce due to sets, costumes and talent such as Funny Girl, The Sound of Music.

However, many of the shows you listed are just plain old and dated. They may have been great in their day, but society and audiences have moved beyond South Pacific, Gigi, Paint Your Wagon, Bells Are Ringing.

In other words, at one time, we may have loved "Leave It To Beaver," but it's been replaced by "Modern Family."

by Anonymousreply 2612/11/2012

[quote]society and audiences have moved beyond South Pacific


by Anonymousreply 2712/11/2012

OP I have done the first 4 on your list at least 5 times a piece in my career(Sound of Music wins with 8 productions.) I think they are performed quite frequently in regional theaters.

by Anonymousreply 2812/11/2012

I think I've seen nearly every show listed in this thread as "never done" in just the past decade. Maybe step outside the Ahmanson/La Jolla box every once and awhile.

And don't bother with NYC. I have friends in their 30s who work in theatre who hadn't seen Merrily We Roll Along until City Center did it last year- and had previously claimed to be huge fans (probably because they hadn't seen it...). Classic shows don't sell in NYC without Hollywood stars, and very few can pull off classic roles. Only theatres with subscription bases will even attempt the shows (Roundabout, Lincoln, City Center) and they can only do one a year.

by Anonymousreply 2912/11/2012

Any chance of seeing Spiderman: Turn Off the Dark as dinner theater?

by Anonymousreply 3012/11/2012

There's a dinner theater near me that's doing "Sweeney Todd" next year. Can't wait to see the menu!

by Anonymousreply 3112/11/2012

Haven't some of these become staples for college, high school, and amateur productions? Hard to put on a professional production when the kids have beaten it to death.

by Anonymousreply 3212/12/2012


by Anonymousreply 3312/12/2012

Will Monty ever be done again in NY?

by Anonymousreply 3412/12/2012

The subject matter of Gigi must have been just as distasteful back when it was first produced...

by Anonymousreply 3512/12/2012

! wish "On Your Toes" would have more revivals. Great music.

by Anonymousreply 3612/12/2012

Even as a movie Gigi is pretty shit. When Gingold isn't onscreen the whole thing is a bore.

by Anonymousreply 3712/12/2012

The book to FUNNY GIRZL is terrible

by Anonymousreply 3812/19/2012

R36, I don't know where you live, but "On Your Toes" is the third show in the upcoming Encores! series in NYC.

I've got tickets to see all three shows in the upcoming season, so I'll get to see Fiorello, It's a Bird, It's a Plane... It's Superman and On Your Toes.

by Anonymousreply 3912/20/2012

[quote]There's a dinner theater near me that's doing "Sweeney Todd" next year. Can't wait to see the menu!

They should totally go for it and serve meat pies.

There was a production of SWEENEY TODD in the UK a decade or so past where they grilled beef backstage during the intermission, so when the audience came back to their seats, the whole theatre smelled unmistakably of cooking meat. The fact that it smelled so delicious just made "God, That's God" that much more ghoulish.

by Anonymousreply 4012/20/2012

OP, there are only so many of your fellow MARY!s in the greater L.A. area. Broadway gets revivals because most of the audience consists of Midwestern flyover tourists. People don't go to L.A. for the theater, so that leaves the Sondheim elderqueens like you (and btw the first four you listed will probably never be done in L.A. because "they've already been done so well on film").

by Anonymousreply 4112/20/2012

LA? Theatre? You call that theatre?

by Anonymousreply 4212/21/2012

You see more productions of City of Angels than of Hello Dolly?

That seems unusual. And a great many of us would be saying "if only!"

by Anonymousreply 4312/21/2012

R35. Is it me or isn't Gigi essentially about child prostitution?

by Anonymousreply 4412/21/2012

Sorry pattie, but Molly does dolly. The hello dolly revival is going to happen after all, but pattie lupone has been dropped in favor of Miss Molly Ringwald. I undertand she just blew em away at the audition. Who'd a thunk it? Good golly miss Molly! Pattie has been offered the revival of Applause.

by Anonymousreply 4512/21/2012
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