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Shows going stale...
Posted by THEATRICAL100 2012-04-29 21:55:35


I saw Avenue Q July 2010. It wasn't terrible. But it wasn't...good. It was stale. The show seemed very forced to me, and I didn't feel any passion.
I saw Wicked (2NT) in December...was pretty disappointed. The cast was just not into it. I felt like with all the different productions, the show was not as unique and lacked the special spark. DG was horrible...SHE (anne brummel (sp?) was good (vocally) but you can give the best show ever but have no character in the Act 1 finale and you're toast. She was sweet at the stagedoor though.
Thoughts?
No bashing please.

Shows going stale...
Posted by hushpuppy 2012-04-29 23:00:24


I'm 54 and saw my first professional production in 1966. I must be totally clueless because the only time I can ever remember seeing an actor who was obviously not giving his all was Richard Burton in a revival of CAMELOT in the early 80's. (I read later that he was in severe back pain and taking painkillers so it may have been due to that, not due to boredom). Sure, some shows seem more 'by the numbers' than others (NEWSIES comes to mind), but I honestly can't remember another occasion where I noticed the performers phoning it in.

Shows going stale...
Posted by Wynbish 2012-04-29 23:12:04


How many times have you seen those shows or listened to recordings? Sometimes, we have this "seen it/heard it" subconscious attitude about shows we were crazy about at one point, but maybe not anymore.

I think a lot of it, too, just depends on how long the actor has been doing the show. Wicked, especially, rotates cast members. If the show is fresh to one cast member, they should be very excited and lively. If they have been doing it for a long time, or many times, then it is slightly possible that they'll lose some energy, unless they just really love that role.

Shows going stale...
Posted by Gothampc 2012-04-29 23:25:06


Several years ago, Les Miserables fired several cast members and made others re-audition for the roles they were playing because the show had grown stale.

Shows going stale...
Posted by dramamama611 2012-04-30 03:01:36


It happens, it's not "right" but it happens. Actors get sick, tired bored, crap happens in their personal lives -- of course none of that SHOULD matter, but it does. The average theater goer will seldom know the difference.

I'm not sure what there is to discuss, to be honest.

Shows going stale...
Posted by Wynbish 2012-04-30 09:10:32


In most cases, I just don't think it's a reflection of the show itself. Like dramamama said, it's a personal actor-by-actor issue, of getting sick or having problems or drama they cannot get past for those two hours.

Many shows may seem dated if the humor or events are very time-specific, which may be part of Avenue Q's problem, but there's obviously a difference between dated and stale.

Shows going stale...
Posted by themysteriousgrowl 2012-04-30 09:20:33



The AVENUE Q running at New World Stages feels just that -- stale. It's not the show. It's definitely the cast -- or, at least, it was when I saw it last fall. To be fair, they may not be aware it's a problem. They didn't seem "bored," per se... but the energy coursing through the production is on the relaxed-to-low side, robbing the show of its snap and verve. The actors looked to be enjoying themselves, so I don't think you can say they were phoning it in... but everything came out pretty casually, with a not-overtaxing expenditure of energy, like they knew they didn't have to work too hard to keep that audience's attention.

Shows going stale...
Posted by Fosse76 2012-04-30 09:55:04


"Several years ago, Les Miserables fired several cast members and made others re-audition for the roles they were playing because the show had grown stale."

I bleieve that was mid-to-late nineties (98 maybe?). Anyway, they didn't fire several cast members, they fired MOST of the company, but allowed those they considered keeping re-audition. Then, they shuttered the show, brought in the touring cast while the new company rehearsed, and then re-opened.

Shows going stale...
Posted by JoeKv99 2012-04-30 10:46:00


There is also a lack of effervescence that come from seeing a show repeatedly. There is nothing that can replace the effect of seeing a show for the first time.

And I'd single out Lion King as the best preserved production- I've seen it repeatedly over the years- in NYC, on tour- and I've never seen a stale performance. Excellent work all around.

Shows going stale...
Posted by Mister Matt 2012-04-30 10:51:01


The worst offenders of this I've seen were London productions of Grease and Starlight Express, though I did experience it the last time I saw Rent on Broadway. My father complained about Miss Saigon just before it closed as it was one of his favorite shows and he said the entire cast phoned it in and the production was a mess. Quite often, long-running shows will simply be abandoned by the producers and director with the stage manager simply assigning blocking and dance captains drilling the choreography. With nobody keeping a critical eye on the production, they can just devolve into run-throughs where the cast is there simply to pick up a check. I remember hearing about this being a major problem during the final years of A Chorus Line.

Shows going stale...
Posted by tmbyru 2012-04-30 11:09:21


Does anyone believe that Phantom is stale? I saw it again recently (last couple months) and felt very much like I was sitting in the 80's. I am not a HUGE ALW fan, but compared to the revival of JCCS, Phantom seems ancient. Some shows need to close simply so they can be revived with new life.

Another thing that bothers me is that the revival of Chicago is still running. It doesn't feel like a revival anymore. The word revival... doesn't it mean to to bring life back to? And now it's been running so long that the revivals coming out now seem more stellar than Chicago.

The Chicago revival once works as new and exciting with its non existent set and basic costumes and the band on stage, but isn't time to update again?

Shows going stale...
Posted by Wynbish 2012-04-30 11:13:37


"Another thing that bothers me is that the revival of Chicago is still running. It doesn't feel like a revival anymore. The word revival... doesn't it mean to to bring life back to? And now it's been running so long that the revivals coming out now seem more stellar than Chicago."

Slightly unrelated, but that's what bugs me when musicals put "A New Musical" in its title. Recently, a community theatre in my neck of the woods did "Titanic: A New Musical" fifteen years after it was on Broadway. It makes me want to go up to a fifteen year old and go, "It's Matthew. A new person."

Shows going stale...
Posted by TalkinLoud 2012-04-30 11:24:51


I think it's important to differentiate between production and show. The show isn't necessarily stale, but the productions can be.

Phantom and Chicago are perfect examples I think. And stale is the perfect word. When a new production opens, it can make an old show feel fresh. For instance, I saw Phantom and South Pacific the same day. South Pacific is obviously a much older show, but because Phantom was an older production it felt very, very stale and old. Whereas South Pacific felt fresh and new.

Shows going stale...
Posted by tmbyru 2012-04-30 11:25:34


haha, yeah Titanic is def not a "new" musical anymore. But in that same respect, neither is "Wicked" anymore and it still has "new" in its logo.

So when is "new" no longer appropriate? And when is a "revival" no longer a revival? Is it awarded the title revival forever simply because the original closed? I bet you could ask some people and they wouldn't even know that Chicago is a revival.

Shows going stale...
Posted by Mister Matt 2012-04-30 11:30:47


A few years ago, I took a friend to Phantom of the Opera on tour because she has never seen it and rarely gets to the theatre. Having worked with the first two tours, I was expected to be bored by a stale production, but it seemed as fresh as if I were seeing it for the first time in the 80s. I was HUGELY impressed with the care taken on that tour and it reminded me exactly what made the show a sensation in the first place. Still not one of my favorite shows, but I had enormous respect for how effective it could still be when the people involved actually care about the production.

Shows going stale...
Posted by LizzieCurry 2012-04-30 11:31:51


That whole firing/re-auditioning situation at Les Miz happened in 1996, just prior to the 10th anniversary on Broadway.

http://www.nytimes.com/1996/11/05/theater/act-iv-years-later-the-cast-battles-time.html?pagewanted=all&src=pm
http://www.nytimes.com/1996/10/30/theater/from-les-miserables-to-just-plain-miserable.html?pagewanted=2

Shows going stale...
Posted by JoeKv99 2012-04-30 11:32:44


The official Titanic "logo" reads "Titanic: A New Musical." If you do that show and want to use the provided graphics and posters, that's what you get.

Shows going stale...
Posted by Wynbish 2012-04-30 11:40:25


"The official Titanic "logo" reads "Titanic: A New Musical." If you do that show and want to use the provided graphics and posters, that's what you get."

I'm not faulting the community theater. I'm faulting the creators.

Shows going stale...
Posted by tmbyru 2012-04-30 11:40:32


well duh Joe, I don't think anyone misunderstood the reason why "new" is still being used when putting on that show.

Shows going stale...
Posted by PattiLover 2012-04-30 11:52:53


Just saw Phantom in December on B'way - it's in terrific shape.

Shows going stale...
Posted by LizzieCurry 2012-04-30 11:55:13


I saw it about a month ago (on a Thursday night) and it was definitely staler than it had when I saw it five years ago (on a weekend matinee) -- that performance felt so fresh and energetic. This was fine, but nothing special.

Shows going stale...
Posted by yankeefan7 2012-04-30 12:01:45


I went to see "The Producers" a 2nd time because a very dear friend of ours in NY wanted to see it. I was very surprised that it was "stale" even with Lane and Broderick (their 2nd time doing the show) who appeared to be going thru the motions to me.

Shows going stale...
Posted by dramamama611 2012-04-30 12:15:22


It's not because "new" is part of the logo...it's because it is OFFICIALLY part of the title. And TMBRYU -- no need to get snippy.

Shows going stale...
Posted by thespian geek 2012-04-30 12:20:01


On the contrary, I saw Phantom in early January and happened to catch one of Hugh Panaro's understudies and it was one of the worst shows I've ever seen. I was bored, there was almost nothing good happening on that stage when I saw it, except for the Raoul who wasn't even the normal Raoul - he was filling in for a short time.

Which makes me wonder if Phantom is a good, not boring/stale show right now because of Hugh or not. Because it sure wasn't when I went.

Shows going stale...
Posted by JoeKv99 2012-04-30 12:20:05


There is ALWAYS a reason to get snippy. Excuse my beauty, bitches.

Shows going stale...
Posted by tmbyru 2012-04-30 14:25:25


I think the point is that "new" doesn't belong there whether official or in a logo. New is for new shows, and titles should be renamed to take out "new" if it ain't new anymo! You hear me "Wicked" people?

Besides, what's new anyways these days? Everything seems to be recycled from an older idea... Nice Work, Lysistrata, Once, Leap (puke), Ghost, Newsies...

Shows going stale...
Posted by LizzieCurry 2012-04-30 14:53:48


thespian geek: I've actually seen the same Phantom understudy both times I've seen the show on Broadway (James Romick). Loved him the first time. Second time he was fine but had obviously been there way too long.

Shows going stale...
Posted by bwaylvsong 2012-04-30 15:11:48


^I've seen Romick (who has been in the show at least 10 years) twice out of the three times I've seen Phantom. He was great both times, but I slightly prefered McGillin and am dying to see Panaro.

Shows going stale...
Posted by Mister Matt 2012-04-30 15:46:03


Besides, what's new anyways these days? Everything seems to be recycled from an older idea... Nice Work, Lysistrata, Once, Leap (puke), Ghost, Newsies...

What do you mean "these days"? Show Boat, The Boys From Syracuse, Oklahoma, Carousel, Wonderful Town, West Side Story, My Fair Lady...

Shows going stale...
Posted by thespian geek 2012-04-30 16:09:34


It wasn't James Romick that I saw, it was Paul A. Schaefer (I had to look it up).

Shows going stale...
Posted by MikeInTheDistrict 2012-04-30 20:55:12


Was Les Miz really in that bad shape back in '96? According the that article, Ivan Rutherford was the Valjean who got sacked. I saw him in that role in the tour several years later, and he was excellent. I can't imagine him being so bad they had to downgrade him to the Innkeeper.

Shows going stale...
Posted by Vespertine1228 2012-05-01 09:35:45


Another pertinent recent example is the last few years of Rent on Broadway. I went three or four times because friends from out of town really wanted to see it. The cast was routinely terrible. You could never understand what anyone was saying. There was just a lot of screaming in place of singing.

I think if you get into a long running show you're more likely to treat it like a normal job. It's not like anyone other than tourists are going to see Rock of Ages, Mamma Mia, etc. now anyway.

Shows going stale...
Posted by JRybka 2012-05-01 09:39:24


I actually went and saw POTO last year and thought it wasn't "stale" -- I enjoyed it. One of the LEAST stale shows after all these years is CHICAGO. I always love the show every time.

Shows going stale...
Posted by defyinggravity2 2012-05-01 18:11:36


To all you guys bitching about shows getting stale, you've probably seen those shows multiple times. Well, duh, a show gets stale if you've seen it several times. I think what this thread is about is productions that just don't have heart anymore.