Dear Broadway Producers: Here's How To Produce Fewer Flops

Categories: Advice

dead30f-1-web.jpg
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.


Sponsor Content

My Voice Nation Help
13 comments
ladybug9
ladybug9

I'm avoiding the "reply" button too.

ladybug9
ladybug9

Ignore this person, Musto. Anyyone who calls you "boy" and patronizingly tells you how to run your blog, while also spouting off-base crap is a musto-avoid.

musto
musto moderator

And "needless expenditure" describes many shows that opened on Broadway without a tryout and flopped because they just weren't right.

musto
musto moderator

Well, nothing is guaranteed in life. But a tryout gives producers extra leeway to fix things because it allows them more time to do so, rather than have to frantically do it in previews.

Aside from that, one of my main points was that a tryout can tell you not to come to Broadway at all. That's happened with many shows (a Hal Prince thing that played London, for example) that would have lost their shirts in NYC.

And I don't like to post comments as replies. Maybe I'll fix that in tryout.


musto
musto moderator

As I wrote, "the old-style tryout process doesn't guarantee a hit"

discerning_voice
discerning_voice

On the surface, you might think he has a point, until you actually think for a second about the countless flops over the years that did have out of town tryouts.

musto
musto moderator

I've just been told that Dead Accounts did have a previous production, in Cincinnati. I'm surprised they brought it in anyway. The play had problems.

blissbaby
blissbaby

He probably has to produce it or give all that money back (including the imaginary money).

aortick
aortick

Maybe Bialystock and Bloom finally got their act together.

blissbaby
blissbaby

So true! All of those fiascos could have been easily averted. Some producers obviously have a death wish (or make deals they can't get out of).

discerning_voice
discerning_voice

@musto Learn to use the reply button, Mikey boy. Re: your post, however, why the hell bother trying if it's not a guarantee? Ever heard of a needless expenditure? Every show I've liked on Broadway that has run opened cold in New York. Every producer I know eschews the antiquated tryout because they like having the preview audience be the New York audience. There's no BS -- they're right there telling you what you need to fix. Does the message always translate? No. But it won't in a tryout either.

Loading...