Let’s look at some recent failures on Broadway:
Chaplin, the singing show about the non-talking star;
Scandalous, a toetapper about a messed-up but lovable faith healer;
Dead Accounts, in which a bank robber has to learn that maybe what he did was wrong;
The Performers, a comedy about a porn star who gets furious when her boyfriend kisses someone else;
The Anarchist, two women, some chairs, and a lot of questions.
The last two had something glaringly in common:
They weren’t tried out pre Broadway! They didn’t have an out-of-town period where they could fine tune, hone, tweak, and iron out–or possibly even add–any kinks.
In this economy, it’s extra risky to simply trust what you’ve got and throw it up, as it were, onto a Broadway stage while crossing your fingers.
Believe me, I know that the old-style tryout process doesn’t guarantee a hit (as witnessed by the first few shows on the list), but it does sometimes manage to weed out titles that would have otherwise headed to the Great White Way and been kicked in the groin.
It fine tunes your financial and creative chances. It gives you clues as to how to move forward and sometimes if you should move forward. What you do with those clues is your own decision, but at least it allows you the chance to test the waters and get more than a wild-guess answer as to whether you’ve got a definite smash or a probable suicide catalyst.
And yet, I always complain that Broadway has gotten too safe and pre-tested because of the monetary risks involved, so I actually hope y’all will ignore this advice and keep bringing on the fascinating failures. Truth be told, I enjoy watching them, and besides, the Playbills increase in value.
So bring on Really Scandalous, Porn Again, Anarchist 2, Revived Accounts, and Geraldine Chaplin!!
Photo by Joan Marcus.