The new Broadway season is packed, packed, packed with brand spanking new musicals and reviews... let's make our early judgements...
by David Davila (playwright / songwriter)
It's the first day of a brand new season here at crazytown, a season packed with new Broadway musicals and us theatre geeks love nothing more than speculating as to which ones are going to be mind-blowing-soul-wreching-toe-tapping-good-times, and which ones are going to suck.
I thought it might be fun to include you all in that process. A wise woman once wrote "Don't judge a book by it's cover," but she didn't say anything about judging musicals.
Here we go:
BIG FISH opens this week and the poster artwork is nice. It's not an all around home run in the vein of Les Mis or anything, but it's respectable. They're missing some sort of icon attached to the title that people will associate with the show. Based on the artwork I would say this show is going to fold in January if not early November - especially since the word of mouth from Chicago is mediocre at best. But you never know... KINKY BOOTS word from Chicago was "bad," and look how they turned that around - still, KINKY BOOTS has a great logo.
BULLETS OVER BROADWAY is one of my favorite movies, and I have a feeling whoever plays Helen is going to win a Tony for featured actress. I'm not really excited about the idea of using old songs instead of the score Marvin Hamlisch was writing for this, but we'll see. The artwork is very old fashion and I'm not really sure how that will play out. Because it's Woody Allen, the audience will be built in for at least the first six months; with stellar reviews it could make it to Tony season.
The artwork for THE BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY has me super-duper-duper excited for this new musical by Jason Robert Brown. OMG! Look at it! It looks soooo wonderful. It looks romantic and wonderous. It looks like I'm going to get lost in the world of the gorgeous orchestrations. Ugh. I cannot wait to see this musical! I have a feeling this will be my favorite musical of the season, and I see it being the musical that all the nerds are rooting for come Tony time.
Not sure which image is actually the ALADDIN artwork but either way, MAJOR MAJOR MAJOR FAIL! What the EF is this crap? This looks like the poster for the Wilkin's County Community Theatre production of ALADDIN JR. Is this poster supposed to make me think I'm going to be swept up in the world of this amazing production of ALLADIN? Because what it makes me think is that this production is not going to do anything spectacular to whisk us away in the way LION KING, NEWSIES, and BEAUTY & THE BEAST did. Where is the Middle Eastern inspired Arabian nights sand themed cool desert design? Seriously, Disney needs to act fast and get a new poster. Maybe they need to act fast and hire a new design team for advertising AND a new design team for the production because if this is the "vision" of ALADDIN then I'm worried - because this is no vision at all. Remember Disney that this show is not guaranteed to run forever, learn from LITTLE MERMAID and proceed with caution.
AFTER MIDNIGHT is a musical based on COTTON CLUB PARADE tunes, starring Fantasia Barino and the Lincoln Center Jazz band. The concept sounds like a wonderful night of jazz by amazing performers, but the poster looks like crap. I saw the marquis up the other day and almost vomitted. If I was walking down the street and someone handed me a flyer for this I would toss it on the ground. That being said, I can't wait to see this production!
A NIGHT WITH JANIS JOPLIN is a review of the late singer's life. Her life was crazy and her music was great so the musical could be famazing. This poster is great, I think it will bring in the audiences. Good work.
HONEYMOON IN VEGAS is the other Jason Robert Brown musical coming to Broadway this season which makes me wonder if it actually will in fact come. One or two of the musicals on this list will not see opening night this season and if I had to pick one off hand I would guess this one merely because Brown is overbooked. But look at this poster. It's fantastic! Jason Robert Brown seems to be surrounding himself with the right people. I've heard a lot of this music in Brown's concerts over the last few years and I must say I can't wait to see this musical. Love the original movie, and love the new music so this is a WIN-WIN!
I had no idea this was a musical because it doesn't say so anywhere on the logo (FAIL), but apparently it's a musical, and apparently it's great. I rather like the logo with the dead bodies under the hat, but wonder if it's strong enough to keep it open through Spring. The reviews will have to be out of this world to keep this show open... and I've already heard there are a few shows out there (cough cough FAT CAMP) that would love for it to close early so they can have a Broadway run.
Love Carole King's music and I'm obsessed with Jessie Mueller who is supposed to play her, so I'm actually excited for this. It's going to be Jessie Mueller vs. Kelli O'Hara vs. Idina Menzel for best actress this year. My money is on Kelli O'Hara for BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY - remember that Meryl Streep was nominated for an Oscar for that and Kelly is overdue. The artwork for this musical though is tepid at best. I like the keyboard idea, but the plain yellow behind her could be improved.
IF/THEN is the new musical by the guys who wrote NEXT TO NORMAL with an all-star cast of buzzy Broadway vets. Can't wait for this, but I must say I'm not excited by this artwork yet. It's not terrible, it's just kind of plain. The artwork for NEXT TO NORMAL was freaking amazing... it intrigued the weariest of tourists and kept the show open for a couple of years. They're going to need to repeat that if this thing is going to make it. It's completely original and didn't have an off-broadway run to help build buzz. Come on guys you can do it!
WOOOOOO!!!!!! I am completely blown away with the artwork for ROCKY. I had been telling anyone that would listen, that the only way ROCKY would make it, is if they left out the "the musical" part off the title. ROCKY and "musical" just doesn't sound right. Glad to see the ad team figured that out and offer us instead, "ROCKY BROADWAY." Bravo! This thing looks freaking amazing! Love Ahrens and Flaherty and can't wait to see this thing on it's feet. Could be terrible, but with a poster like that, it might not matter.
Then we have the three musicals that have already opened to terrible reviews. I guess I'll be nice and not judge by their covers because they've already opened. All of these shows are doing pretty solid eighty percent houses, though SOUL DOCTOR has a terrible word of mouth from my customers at Junior's, and FIRST DATE actually has a really solid word of mouth - people think it's cute and funny. I don't think either will be up on the marquis much longer... just saying... Autumn is a rough season for Broadway.
This logo actually rocks. I dig it... too bad people aren't liking the show...
Ugh, I hate the artwork and posters for FIRST DATE which is why I haven't watched it yet, but my friend Jared is obsessed with it, and has already seen it four times, so I guess I better head over there quick before it closes.
As far as the rest of the year goes, who knows what other surprises the season might throw at us. Will we get an 11 o'clock musical swooping in, in March when a bunch of other ones fail? Who knows... maybe the ghost of REBECCA will finally resurrect. We'll just have to wait and see.
For the record I absolutely adore REBECCA, you can watch it in it's entirety in German online here.
... and now for the 90's jam of the week. I remember riding the bus in 5th grade to a parade we were going to be walking in for school, and the bus driver had this song blasting on the radio. ENJOY!
DAVID DAVILA is the guy behind those 52 SONGS concerts and author of the Tex-Mex plays ADAN Y JULIO, MEN OF GOD, ABUELAS OR THE POVERTY CYCLE, CREDO, REQUERDOS OF MY LIFE, ANIMAL HUSBANDRY, and AZTEC PIRATES AND THE INSIGNIFICANCE OF LIFE ON MARS. He is a self proclaimed Voxist, a Diva enthusiast, and founder of Lone Star Theatre Co. Wanna talk about it? www.daviddavila.net
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