June 18, 2014 at 8:37 am #433609
I hate the way long-running Broadway/West End musical productions, after a number of years of running (early on), begin to lose their originality, and the characters begin to become these well known, iconic figures. The glaringly obvious one of this decade is Wicked, which, to begin with, was fresh and innovative and exciting, but now has become this old war horse of a show that has these really solid performers put in these old costumes, these wigs, but the actors have very little opportunity to make new choices. Les Mis and Phantom are the other two big examples. Anyone else feel this way or do you think the idea of a long run over many, many years is a good thing?June 18, 2014 at 9:06 am #433611
Money talks, and if the shows keep making money, then they will keep playing. I think that good material can stay fresh with each new iteration. The problem is, shows like Wicked or Les Mis rely on very strong lead performances, which forces subsequent performers to try to replicate them. Look at Chicago or Book of Mormon. The songs are good enough in their own right that regardless of performer, they would be entertaining. It depends on the circumstances, but I think it’s good if they can have long runs, and let a maximum amount of people see them.June 18, 2014 at 8:43 pm #433612
I think long runs are good too, but I do think that people should be encouraged to change their interpretation of the role when they step into a part. Just like Patti Lupone says in her memoir, freezing a show so its exactly the same as the original destroys an actor’s credibility and creative drive. I would have to see Wickek again, but that’s definitely the case with Les Mis. Even the blocking in One Day More is the same: Seriously, the whole middle group marching in that formation looks incredibly lame. The whole point of doing shows again is to find something new right? That’s why we want to see theatre again, to find that different quality.June 19, 2014 at 6:06 am #433613
I just feel if you take something like ‘Popular’ from Wicked. Look at Kristin Chenoweth’s original interpretation of the song on YouTube, back in 2003. It’s subtle, nuanced, fresh, and damn funny. Now, that song has become this huge iconic laugh out loud broad, over the top moment that has an even bigger build up. It’s just an excuse for the actress to go crazy during that scene and try to squeeze out as many laughs as possible. I think sometimes, these long running shows need to stand back and think about what made them successful to begin with, and try to reinject them with innovations. I dunno. I’m rambling now, lol.June 19, 2014 at 6:46 am #433614
I will say that sometimes the passage of time skews our personal memories, as well as the natural evolution of theatre. I remember the first time I saw Phantom of the Opera in 1990, it was considered state of the art and was a technical marvel. Then I saw it again about 12 years later (after the helicopter and various other coups de theatre had been launched and the age of the British mega-musical had passed) and it felt very stale and musty, and it seemed like I could have eaten a sandwich in the time it took the chandelier to fall. It was probably the same thing I saw the first time, but my perspective and experience had shifted.
I will say, though, that on the whole I don’t mind a few long-running shows. They keep people employed and having some famous “tentpole” names the tourist public is familiar with may encourage some of them to branch out and see other, newer stuff once they’ve seen the chestnuts.June 20, 2014 at 10:32 am #433615
This is a interesting one. I feel like Chicago probably has lost some of it’s luster but “Grease” probably suffered from that too in it’s recent revival (the one with Laura Osnes).June 21, 2014 at 4:56 am #433616
How did Grease suffer? It wasn’t a long runJune 21, 2014 at 4:35 pm #433617
How did Grease suffer? It wasn’t a long run
I saw the recent revival with Laura Osnes and even then I remember people going “they did the same thing in the last revival.” So I asked someone who saw the 1994 revival and the original production and she said that a lot of it was the same except for the addition of a song and better set layout. I’m just guessing that keepingg alot of it the same would be kinda stale over the years. Also Grease is #15 on the list of longest running broadway shows so thats why I mentioned it.