02 November 2009

What Happened at BRIGHTON BEACH?

1 week after opening, producers have closed BRIGHTON BEACH MEMOIRS and cancelled the partner production of BROADWAY BOUND which was supposed to, eventually, run in rep with BRIGHTON BEACH.  As members of the theatrical community and press, try and sort out "what happened?" I thought I'd throw my own 2 cents into the works.

1) Lest there be any doubt, it was a WONDERFUL production.  Funny, well acted, and smart.

2) The play is mercilessly wholesome about it.  As a jaded New Yorker it was a bit of a relief--like hot cider or a cookie--but I can see how many would not be intrigued by jokes about not wanting to eat liver, or wondering what boobs look like.  And before I spontaneously bought a TDF ticket, I didn't feel particularly compelled to see it.  But boy, am I glad I did.

3) The marketing seemed largely ineffectual.  I only saw banner ads on playbill and, eventually, NYTimes.com.  Whereas I see HAIR ads on every city bus.  The artwork itself is particularly unexciting to me.

It seems to get too much leverage out of the name Neil Simon, which, in and of itself, isn't that exciting.  Beyond that, you just have a couple of guys, one of whom is wearing knickers.  When has a pair of knickers ever sold tickets?

4) Stars.  There aren't any (really) in this production.  Except Laurie Metcalf.  She is very talented.  She won 3 Emmy Awards for her work on ROSEANNE.  And, aside from a brief Broadway stint in the completely forgotten NOVEMBER, she's been off the public radar since ROSEANNE went off the air.

Except for the fact that ROSEANNE hasn't been off the air.  You can pretty much ALWAYS find an episode of ROSEANNE on if you're in the mood.  There are two types of people in this world: People who refuse to watch ROSEANNE and people who realize that, at least in its early seasons, ROSEANNE was one of the best-written and acted sitcoms ever.  Which is why it's on 47 times a day.  So there is an audience out there for Laurie Metcalf.  Why wasn't SHE exploited more?  Where were the interviews in press and on television?  Why is she totally missing from the print ads?  To pave the way for knickers?  Yes, the play is about the boys (who are basically little Neil Simons), but theater audiences want hot men or powerful women.  When you lead is 15 years old, you might want to consider going for the latter.

5) As William Goldman said in his fabulous book about Broadway, THE SEASON (as well as his equally wonderful ADVENTURES IN THE SCREEN TRADE): Nobody knows anything.

1 comment:

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