Posted by WhizzerMarvin TrinaJasonMendel 2013-01-29 23:02:15
Jeepers Creepers indeed! It was hard to make heads or tails of this one tonight. The play really is THAT bad, but I guess that was kind of the point of putting it on again.
The problem is I couldn't quite figure out the spirit in which this production was mounted. I think it's a mistake to approach the material saying, "This was a notorious, campy disaster, and therefore we should be as 'bad' and 'campy' as possible." I'm not sure if that was necessarily the intent here, but it sometimes came off that way.
The play itself is so incoherent and nonsensical that any production could be nothing but a mess. I did laugh a lot in the second act, but at it more than with it.
One of my favorite quotes from Ghostworld comes to mind:
This is so bad it's good.
This is so bad it's gone past good and back to bad again.
Posted by emilyfaye48 2013-01-29 23:25:50
Did you read the note from the artistic director in the program?
"No mocking here. No camp. Just a moose, a mystery and lots of history!"
Posted by WhizzerMarvin TrinaJasonMendel 2013-01-29 23:30:08
Thanks, I thought I read the note in the program, but must have skimmed past that line. Of course one can't make a promise that there won't be camp- camp in its purest state is unintentional, and trust me there was some camp tonight.
Posted by emilyfaye48 2013-01-29 23:37:47
the only way to create true camp is to believe with all your heart you are creating art.
Posted by iluvtheatertrash 2013-01-29 23:43:46
Thanks for coming, and I'm glad that you at least had some fun.
It wasn't that we were trying to create art. We know what we're working with here. And as I've said in other interviews, we know it isn't Hamlet. We just didn't want to deliberately camp the show up.
Posted by Leadingplayer 2013-01-29 23:43:54
I read the play out of curiosity once.
My feeling was that they were trying originally for a tone like the Neil Simon movie "Murder By Death" BUT their subject matter got too dark and confused.
The end is just so horrible you want to throw the play across the room.
Posted by Jungle Red 2013-01-29 23:49:49
"the only way to create true camp is to believe with all your heart you are creating art."
Truer words have never been spoken.
Posted by WhizzerMarvin TrinaJasonMendel 2013-01-29 23:53:01
iluvtheatertrash- I commend you for putting on the play. I've heard an audio of the Broadway production, but it was hard to piece together exactly what was happening. I've always been intensely curious about the play and now I can say I saw it. (Can you please put on Me Jack, You Jill next?)
I guess I was unsure about what you guys were aiming for because some of the performances were a bit over the top, and I didn't know if that was coming from a "let's camp it up" mentality.
I do remember from the program notes that the author's original intention was to write a farce, but this thing has more in common with Waiting For Godot, and therein lies the absurdity and the reason the original production was such camp. The plot and especially motivations of the characters make no sense. It's a tough task to even go about mounting a production.
I'm grateful and thankful I can now check it off the list of flops I want to see.
Posted by iluvtheatertrash 2013-01-29 23:54:09
I wish I could edit my messages, but BWW doesn't want to let me. I would've added, "The play does it for us!".
My hope is that our audiences have fun because we're having fun. It's so silly, so bizarre, so outrageous.... God, I don't even know how it got to Broadway in the first place. But it sure is fun to be able to say, "remember that play with the man in the moose mask and the paraplegic mummy?" and actually get to be a part of it. A story for the grandkids, I guess.
Anyway, thanks for coming, gang. Especially for braving our preview performance! We officially open tomorrow.
Posted by iluvtheatertrash 2013-01-29 23:56:40
Whizzer, over the past week or so, we've all started getting a bit silly and over-the-top. For a while, we were doing it kinda low-key, but we found that it was all just more fun if you accepted the fact that it was just plain silly and just went for broke.
Ah, motivation and plot... Two words we've been talking about for months. In fact, even today we had to discuss another plot-hole. They're all over the place. Some we've solved, with Arthur's help. Some we haven't, and I don't think we ever will.
But it's still fun to do it, though the physicality of Act Two is exhausting and we're still building up the stamina.
Posted by iluvtheatertrash 2013-01-30 00:01:01
In case you don't know, Arthur just released a book about his experiences putting the Moose on Broadway. I found it fascinating, honest and fun. Would highly recommend it as a great "show-biz" read.
Also, one of the more interesting things to know is that some plot questions even Arthur himself couldn't answer. It seems that there were so many rewrites over the show's rehearsal period (many at Eve Arden's request) that even the playwright himself lost sight of it all...
Posted by tazber 2013-01-30 06:17:51
I saw this in Friday's WSJ and meant to post it over the weekend.
Posted by ken8631 2013-01-30 13:29:41
Wife actually wants to see this!
Posted by GavestonPS 2013-01-30 14:21:12
In the name of Charles Ludlam, camp in its purest sense may be art, but it is certainly NOT unintentional! Doesn't anybody take Theater History or even Intro to Theater any more?
My memory of the original production of MOOSE MURDERS was that the broader it got the better it got, until it finally got so broad that (SPOILER) somebody entered in a moose costume and all was lost. The play just didn't know when to quit.
What did NOT work was Holland Taylor's dry sense of humor; I adore her and I assume Eve Arden was similar, but the writing wasn't clever enough to be underplayed.
So have your fun, ILUVTHEATRE, and break a leg!
Posted by Matt Rogers 2013-01-30 20:08:13
What I don't understand is if you had the money or the ability to raise the money to mount an off Broadeay revival or showcase or whatever this is............why would anyone possibly revive this utterly reviled play other than to get publicity for your company? Don't get me wrong, I know everyone's gotta have a gimmick, and I guess your gimmick worked if you are selling out, but with so many good plays out there that could use a revival......why? Especially when you admit that you know what this play is.
Posted by darquegk 2013-01-30 20:14:50
Because, for better or for worse, the play is LEGEND and people will want to see what the fuss is all about.
The point of this whole group is to revive famous but short-lived shows, frequently tweaked to improve or at least maximize what's already there, and show people what all the legend is about.
Posted by Matt Rogers 2013-01-30 20:20:03
I wonder if they previously tried to get the rights to Carrie.
Posted by BroomstickBoy 2013-01-30 20:22:18
According to his twitter, Max von Essen sans-stache is at the show tonight.
Posted by iluvtheatertrash 2013-01-31 01:02:47
Max was indeed there, along with many other fabulous people.
And darguek is spot on. Thank you for your comment!
Matt, we did expect SOME publicity. But none of us, me especially, expected it to blow up quite as it did. I picked the play because I thought we'd have a lot of fun doing it. And we have had just that: a lot of fun. We'd done a lot of sad, intense pieces and hadn't really done in a big, broad comedy yet. Why not go for broke with Moose Murders and just have a ball doing it?
Posted by Matt Rogers 2013-01-31 04:44:36
As long as it doesn't torture your audience, why not.
Posted by newintown 2013-01-31 09:34:27
The problem with thinking that a legendary flop will bring in crowds just because it's a legend is that it's not true.
At least it wasn't true for Carrie (which couldn't complete its always-planned extension), or Legends (the Joan Collins/Linda Evens "pre-Broadway" tour that closed on the road several cities early).
Some theatre lovers get so obsessed with famous flops, they forget that there aren't a lot of others sharing their obsession.
Posted by ken8631 2013-01-31 14:20:42
Just bought tickets for Sunday!
Posted by Matt Rogers 2013-01-31 18:34:27
Don't read the review in Backstage or you may regret having done so.
Posted by NewYorkTheater 2013-02-02 17:11:54
Posted by Broadway Local 2013-02-03 02:14:03
Gouge my eyes out with a spork! Some images I will never be rid of, thanks to today's matinee: a tap-dancing tween, a shrieking nurse, a horn-dog mofo, the world's worst versions of show tunes Jeepers Creepers and People, and a moose tucking in his ears so they would fit in the closet.
It really is as bad as they say -- so bad it's good. I mean, how many shows get zero stars from the Post? "Stultifyingly bad," Scheck noted. "2-1/2 hours of tedious farce that feels like a week. Amateurishly staged and performed, it somehow manages to make the terrible material even worse."
The biggest mystery is how this ever got to Broadway 30 years ago, even for previews. Don't be afraid to laugh in all the wrong places. And clap when it gets shockingly bad. Marvel at the truly bad plot and the lame jokes. It's like Ed Wood directing Noises Off at the Fringe.
Posted by followspot 2013-02-03 12:11:07
In what ways was the script revised?
Posted by chanel 2013-02-03 17:00:03
He took out the characters' racism and made them a little smarter (but not that smart). On a separate note, Broadway had a much nicer set, obviously. I remember a winding stairway. This production was a bit claustro.
Posted by ken8631 2013-02-04 12:56:48
Saw it yesterday... It wasn't that bad, and was actually entertaining! Glad we went and saw it, it was better than some of what we have seen on Broadway actually (something we saw at Studio 54 comes vaguely to mind, but can't remember the name... something with "poet" in the name)
Even bought the poster for $10, a bit overpriced since it wasn't even on poster stock or signed, but figured not many of them are being sold so it may be a collector's item - lol
Only 7 rows of I think 12 seats in each row, but was pretty full for the Sunday 2pm performance...
Posted by iluvtheatertrash 2013-02-04 14:03:59
Aw, thanks, Ken! Appreciate your kind words and I'm glad to hear you had fun. That was our goal: just having fun.
We weren't quite sure what to price the posters at, so I appreciate your feedback on this. We do have some signed ones that I wish our staff had offered you first -- if you are able to stop by and want to exchange your poster for a signed one, I'd be glad to arrange it for you.
Again, thanks for coming and so glad you had fun!
Posted by ken8631 2013-02-04 14:14:11
We're in North Jersey, so not sure when we're heading into the city again - probably to see the Drood play before it closes (I'm a big Stephanie J. Block fan).... Nice little theatre!
Unfortunately they didn't have a bag for the poster either, so ended up putting it in with our Katz's leftovers, not a good idea - lol
Anyway, it definitely was a fun play to watch, wife loved the mooses's head prop being worn (hey - did notice the moose's head on the wall disappeared...) Lots of laughter behind us as well - one lady laughing hysterically while the blind guy was eating a banana (not sure why...)
Posted by Matt Rogers 2013-02-04 19:39:41
Iluvtheatertrash, what's your next project? Just curious.
Posted by iluvtheatertrash 2013-02-04 22:00:56
Our next production is RAGS, which opens on May 28th.
This show was very different than what we normally do. I usually prefer minimalist productions that focus more on reinventing the wheel, but we really just thought - after a depressing play like YENTL (our fall production) - that this would be a lot of good, silly fun.
RAGS will feature a heavily revised libretto, and a multi-media production.
Also: We work on a very small, shoestring budget which the theatre rental costs take up most of. It's part of why our minimalist and conceptual productions are more successful. The less we spend, the easier it is to turn a profit, which is the ultimate goal as we donate a portion of it to charity. This time, that organization is GLSEN.
Posted by emilyfaye48 2013-02-04 23:01:53
Who is revising the libretto?
Posted by somethingwicked 2013-02-04 23:09:58
A review from Isherwood in the Times. Though it is pointedly negative, I think it's at least a positive sign for the company that someone of his significance reviewed the production as opposed to a third stringer.
His observations seem pretty on par with everyone else's.
Posted by Dangerous Jade 2013-02-04 23:41:48
to Emily - I think Steven of Beautiful Soup is revising the libretto.
Posted by somethingwicked 2013-02-04 23:55:21
That can't possibly be the case. Why would living artists like Stephen Schwartz and Charles Strouse agree to license a show of theirs and let someone else do the revisions without their involvement, especially in New York?
Frankly, I'm rather shocked Beautiful Soup even got the rights to RAGS. I know for a fact Roundabout had the rights within the last few years and had been planning a reading of it to explore the possibility of producing it (I'm not sure if that ever happened.) I would have assumed Schwartz and Strouse would be hesitant to allow a New York production in hopes of a more high profile one eventually materializing. Didn't Michael Reidel say similar things in a story last year when a college in the city did the show?
Posted by darquegk 2013-02-05 00:16:40
The Marymount Manhattan production last year was a revised libretto as well. I wouldn't be surprised if this is a pilot for a revision of that revision, to see how it runs after the tweaks.
Posted by iluvtheatertrash 2013-02-05 09:27:20
We do indeed have the rights. There was a lot of back and forth, but we got 'em!
As for the libretto, like our revisions for A DOLL'S LIFE, this will be a combination of two different versions of the show. There is no text being added that wasn't written by the creators of the show. We are simply restoring some sections that were cut, and cutting some sections that were added. All with permission of both Strouse and Schwartz. Primarily, you'll notice the changes at the end of Act I, where we've restored (with permission) Nathan and Rebecca's reunion (which was cut for the now licensed version that played Jewish Rep).
Posted by iluvtheatertrash 2013-02-05 09:34:40
I shouldn't have said "heavily revised". It's really not all that heavy a revision when you sit down and compare it to the other existing librettos. It is very close to the Texas Lyric Stage libretto.
Posted by songanddanceman2 2013-02-05 09:54:54
I really like the idea of a theatre company taking on 'lost works' i think it's interesting and if the work was a flop the first time around and can be rescued in some way then wonderful (i still stand behind the new Carrie and think they did a fantastic job). The problem with this show is NOTHING in the show was redeemable so the only reason to do it was for attention really (not always a bad thing), but with these very big reviews all been negative and slamming the set, direction etc then its only making the company look bad sadly.
Posted by iluvtheatertrash 2013-02-05 10:00:40
TELL me about it, songanddanceman... Y'know, I didn't think we could "redeem" Moose Murders. But I thought that, 30 years later, people would be able to look at it in a different way and just have a good time. I never expected anyone to walk out declaring it belonged on Broadway, or should have a Pulitzer. I just thought it would be fun to revisit it.
I think in many ways some of the critics wanted to be a part of history by giving it yet another cantankerous reviews. Yes, our set is done cheaply, but we're a small company that operates on a shoestring with a charitable mission. I think it's something a lot of the critics chose to ignore (or simply forgot).
Posted by iluvtheatertrash 2013-02-05 10:02:14
I should also add that revising the script was not our idea, but Mr. Bicknell's. This idea came from the fact that the Sam French script has a great deal of errors in it and some of them make the plot even more incomprehensible than it already is. Besides a few new lines, the script is rather similar to the original, with just a tad more "explanation".
Posted by followspot 2013-02-05 10:15:20
Besides a few new lines, the script is rather similar to the original, with just a tad more "explanation".
Then why was it advertised as "shamelessly revised"?
I ask because "shamelessly revised" was a big turn-off to me I was interested in seeing the play people saw in 1983, not a revision. "Shamelessly revised" indicated a new entity, in which I had much less (read: no) interest. (I can't even begin to fathom what "rather similar to the original" means.) I admire your mission, and really do wish you well just letting you know how mixed the messages were/are on this production.
(And now here you are already backtracking on "heavily revised" re: Rags. I mean, c'mon this is NYC we're not theatre illiterates these things matter.)
Posted by ken8631 2013-02-05 10:29:16
If the intent was "that this would be a lot of good, silly fun", I think it was achieved. We had fun. It was actually MUCH better than "A Touch of the Poet" which we saw at Studio 54 awhile ago..... Also, I don't think the story was confusing at all... Just a few twists and turns....
Does it belong on Broadway? No
Was it fun? Yes!
Were we happy we went and saw it? Yes!
Posted by iluvtheatertrash 2013-02-05 10:36:24
Followspot, Arthur didn't decided to revise the script until we were already well into pre-production mode. And billing it as "Shamelessly Revised" was Arthur's request. We were thrilled he was brave enough to revisit it, but I have come to realize that we should've done the original script. I don't disagree with you there. This was, in many ways, a big experiment for us.
I don't plan on advertising RAGS as heavily revised, but only mention it here because I know you're all interested in which version we are presenting. For the most part, you will already know the RAGS we are showing.
Posted by iluvtheatertrash 2013-02-05 10:53:27
To those of you on here who've been so supportive, I really appreciate it. Some of the press was painful because I don't think everyone takes into consideration how tight our budget was, but I'm glad to know that some people were able to just let go and have fun. That was our only goal. Perhaps Mr. Bicknell's goal was a tad different.
Posted by followspot 2013-02-05 10:54:11
Onward and upward! Looking forward to Rags!
Posted by After Eight 2013-02-07 07:36:07
Let's face it. Nothing could ever replicate the otherworldly experience of the initial production of Moose Murders. That kind of thing happens once in a llfetime.
The revised version on view in this revival has lost many of the laughs that were in the original. Nonetheless, I still guffawed heartily at some of the more ludicrous lines and shenanigans, especially when the farcical antics kicked into high gear. And the sight of the man in the moose costume dancing while wielding a hatchet had me in stitches.
So all in all, it was fun. And I commend the company for allowing today's theatregoers the opportunity to get a taste of what this theatrical legend was like.
Now, how about revivals of Grandma's Diary, Springtime Folly, and How to Make a Man?