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Andrew Lippa Question

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Mr Roxy
Broadway Legend
joined:5/17/03
Andrew Lippa Question
Posted: 11/22/13 at 05:34pm
Is Andrew Lippa becoming the new target of critics since Wildhorn is gone from the scene?

He score for Addams was OK and for Big Fish it was quite good. No idea why he is getting such vitriol .

Comments
Cynicism is an unpleasant way of saying the truth - Lillian Hellman.
HoundDoggydog
Swing
joined:11/5/13
Andrew Lippa Question
Posted: 11/22/13 at 05:39pm
I have started to wonder the same thing, actually. I didn't love Big Fish, but I disagree that the score is what did it in. I put the blame far more on direction and vision.

I hope that Lippa can write something successful soon to get past the critical schlump he is in.
bobs3
Broadway Legend
joined:4/8/12
Andrew Lippa Question
Posted: 11/22/13 at 05:58pm
He will probably go the way of Larry Grossman (Larry who?) -- Minnie's Boys, Goodtime Charlie, A Doll's Life, Grind -- all serviceable scores in bad musical plays.
CATSNYrevival
Broadway Legend
joined:3/1/04
Andrew Lippa Question
Posted: 11/22/13 at 06:30pm
I love his score for A Little Princess, but that never made it to Broadway. New York audiences didn't get to see the revised version of The Addams Family which I think was a lot better than the Broadway version and Big Fish will probably be revised and restaged and better recieved the second time around as well.
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GavestonPS
Broadway Legend
joined:6/10/12
Andrew Lippa Question
Posted: 11/22/13 at 07:09pm
As many have written, a musical almost never fails because of the quality of its score. So blaming the composer (except for his participation in the writing team) is rather pointless.
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Borstalboy
Broadway Legend
joined:2/9/04
Andrew Lippa Question
Posted: 11/22/13 at 07:12pm
He's a writer of great potential.

The problem is, he's been that for nearly 15 years now.
"It's now rather very common to hear people say 'I'm rather offended by that'. As if that gives them certain rights. It's actually nothing more than a whine. It has no meaning, no purpose. It has no reason to be respected as a phrase. 'I am offended by that'. Well, so f**king what?"--Stephen Fry
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HogansHero
Leading Actor
joined:2/26/12
Andrew Lippa Question
Posted: 11/22/13 at 10:52pm
Borstalboy-I think you are zeroing in on the problem. While it may be true that a middling score won't kill a great show, it's also true that a great score will save a middling show. Lippa has been given more chances than anyone could dream of, and yet has never hit one out of the park. At some point, presumably, people will stop investing in what they think he has the potential to do. He's not writing music that sells tickets.
Wayman_Wong
Broadway Star
joined:4/22/04
Andrew Lippa Question
Posted: 11/23/13 at 12:06am
There are long-running shows with so-so scores, and there are flop shows that have had wonderful scores ('Merrily We Roll Along,' for one). But musicals are more than just their scores; there are so many factors in why they succeed or fail (i.e., book, cast, timing, source material). And just because a composer hasn't had a 'hit' musical, doesn't mean he/she isn't a wonderful writer. And conversely, having many hit musicals doesn't necessarily mean you're the best composer. By that measure, that would make Andrew Lloyd Webber the greatest one, right? As for Andrew Lippa, he's hardly the only writer who hasn't had a mega-hit yet. Michael John LaChiusa, anyone? I really enjoyed his latest one: an earthy score to 'Giant,' but even though this show didn't move to Broadway, it doesn't diminish my admiration for his work on it.

I happen to love Lippa's tunes to 'The Wild Party' and I think 'Big Fish' is arguably his best work since. For his sheer lyrical melodies alone, I'll take 'Be the Hero,' 'Stranger,' 'Time Stops,' 'Fight the Dragons' and 'I Don't Need a Roof' - all from 'Big Fish - over any other new showtunes I've heard this fall.

As armchair critics, it's easy for any of us to blithely judge the music of others. But watch this clip and hear Lippa play his tunes and show how much work goes into it.
Broadway.com: Andrew Lippa talks about and plays songs from 'Big Fish'
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darquegk
Broadway Legend
joined:2/5/09
Andrew Lippa Question
Posted: 11/23/13 at 12:36am
I think Lippa is talented, but decidedly middle of the road these days. Things like "The Wild Party," which blended jazz with rock and Latin and adopted rock opera format, were interesting and quirky and fun. But Addams Family and Big Fish seemed like more of the same- nothing really different or exciting or especially in tune to the characters.
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RippedMan
Broadway Legend
joined:8/14/05
Andrew Lippa Question
Posted: 11/23/13 at 12:38am
Well, that's your opinion. I thought his score was totally unmemorable. Except for that one song the wife sings in Act 2 there wasn't one song that made sit up in my sit and listen.

The problem is these aren't passion projects. He's just getting paid to write a score. I think Wild Party has some great melodies, but there are plenty of clunkers there too.

He's not a terrible writer or anything, but, as a friend said, he doesn't have a musical independence. I know a Sondheim song when I hear it, I know a Wildhorn song when I hear it, I know a LaChiusa song when I hear it, but Lippa, I don't get.

But, that said, look at Ahrens and Flaherty - they are well-known, sure, but they haven't had a "hit" ever. Doesn't make them bad either. Although, for some reason, their music always strikes me as "cheap" sounding.
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HogansHero
Leading Actor
joined:2/26/12
Andrew Lippa Question
Posted: 11/23/13 at 12:49am
Wayman-the problem with all that is that someone has to pay for these shows and, from that vantage point, you have to look for a basis for engaging a person with nothing to show for his efforts except praise from a few people who see everything. LaChiusa is different, because his work has been in the non-profit arena. But Lippa has had two recent shots at commercial Broadway musicals, and his music didn't really help either one. In fact, his music for Addams Family was apparently so lacking in sellable music that, when it came time to do a TV commercial, they repaired back to the TV show theme. Of course that doesn't mean "armchair critics" (or any others) can't like or dislike his work. But its the audience that tells us what we need to know, and that is that Lippa has made no showing that he can draw anyone to his shows. As I said, there are of course shows with lousy scores that succeed nonetheless, but when someone is looking at spending an eight figure number on a show, you can't ignore forever the track record of everyone involved. It's like the races. Yes, horses win races, not jockeys, but jockeys who never win don't work.
sephyr
Featured Actor
joined:11/21/10
Andrew Lippa Question
Posted: 11/23/13 at 01:22am
I actually thought the score to Big Fish was very good. I enjoyed the 2nd Act especially. The problem for me is I don't remember the songs (since I saw the show almost 2 months ago in previews). If there was a cast recording I could refer to, it would make me (and I imagine a lot of people) love the show more and want to return to it. Overall, I think the show would have benefited if there was more promotion for the songs and the show had established its "signature" song (maybe Be The Hero or Fight The Dragons).

Personally, I think he's a great writer and found many riveting and tender moments (Daffodils, How It Ends, What's Next, Be The Hero). I hope the show is recorded.
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Mr Roxy
Broadway Legend
joined:5/17/03
Andrew Lippa Question
Posted: 11/23/13 at 02:07am
According to a cast member after Thursday's show it is being recorded 12/5..
Cynicism is an unpleasant way of saying the truth - Lillian Hellman.
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carlodowd
Stand-by
joined:5/3/13
Andrew Lippa Question
Posted: 11/23/13 at 07:24am
I've heard that date also. Only problem is it's too late to save the show. I was really looking forward to this show becoming the big hit for Lippa. I only have listen to his score for Adams family which I believe the first act is brilliant songs are so catchy however it loses it's theme and memorabily in the second act. I wanted Big Fish to be a hit for him. It had all the makings of one. Stellar Cast and Director, Brilliant score material and pre-existing fans, along with the most amazing costume designer in recent times. But somewhere it lost its heart and had to close. I wish it at least could stay till after the Tonys. I know that's a long way away but it would get a few nominations and give some extra exposure to it. However that doesn't seem possible. It's sad really Lippa had worked really hard and like you said seems to be the new Wildhorn with critics.
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devonian.t
Broadway Legend
joined:7/26/04
Andrew Lippa Question
Posted: 11/23/13 at 07:30am
He doesn't inspire the same level of vitriol- but maybe that's the problem. He is Mr Bland.

Outside The Wild Party I can't think of 1 song I hear of his at auditions. He's just not ear-catching enough.

I wouldn't even mention him in the same breath as the composer of 'Giant', 'Marie Christine' and 'The Wild Party' (Broadway!!!
KathyNYC2
Broadway Legend
joined:12/2/10
Andrew Lippa Question
Posted: 11/23/13 at 08:15am
I do think he has become the"easy scapegoat" for what goes wrong in a number of situations...and I think that's terribly unfair also. There is usually a lot more wrong with something that doesn't work.

I didn't love his score for Big Fish but I didn't walk out of the theater shaking my head at the music - as I did with some other aspects of the show - directing, vision, choreography, sound, etc. I know his Addams Family score has gotten a bad wrap - but again, I thought the choice of plot and parts of the script were much bigger issues that caused the show to be weak while there were a number of songs there that I loved.

I have not heard A little Princess music. Sounds like I should look it up.
Theater'sBestFriend
Featured Actor
joined:3/5/13
Andrew Lippa Question
Posted: 11/23/13 at 09:25am
I am troubled by something. Has anyone considered the possibility that the person being discussed here may read this thread? Is anyone concerned about how it might make him feel?

This is an anonymous chatboard. Any coward with an axe to grind can get revenge here, and any envious competitor can use it try to clear the field. It's one thing to critique a composer's works, quite another to criticize the person.

Perhaps anyone who wants to do the latter shouldn't do so anonymously, so that the reader can evaluate the source.



Updated On: 11/23/13 at 09:25 AM
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dramamama611
Broadway Legend
joined:12/4/07
Andrew Lippa Question
Posted: 11/23/13 at 09:38am
1. Do you really think that a PROFESSIONAL can't handle criticism?
2. If he can't handle criticism, he wouldn't read threads.
3. No one is bashing him, but discussing his work. And, there are quite a few people here standing up for him.

4. The world is not lollipops and sunshine.

BTW.....I'm pretty much in the camp that his work is serviceable but immemorable. His name would neither get me to nor keep me away from the theater, but my expectations would not be high.
If we're not having fun, then why are we doing it? These are DISCUSSION boards, not mutual admiration boards. Discussion only occurs when we are willing to hear what others are thinking, regardless of whether it is alignment to our own thoughts.
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devonian.t
Broadway Legend
joined:7/26/04
Andrew Lippa Question
Posted: 11/23/13 at 09:52am
I'm sure he could PM anyone with whom he took exception.

But then he'd also have to contact all the reviewers who find his work less than stellar. Though they give their names, since it is their job to express their views in public, they are still disregarding his finer feelings.

It is a convention of messageboards that we have usernames, but we are easily contactable if he is offended by our comments. Personally I am always grateful for reasoned critiques of my work.



Theater'sBestFriend
Featured Actor
joined:3/5/13
Andrew Lippa Question
Posted: 11/23/13 at 10:48am
"No one is bashing him"

Really? Here are a few quotes:

"Lippa has made no showing that he can draw anyone to his shows"
"He's a writer of great potential. The problem is, he's been that for nearly 15 years now."
"He is Mr Bland. Outside The Wild Party I can't think of 1 song I hear of his at auditions. He's just not ear-catching enough."

So tell me, how can the reader know whether an anonymous poster has auditioned for Mr. Lippa? Whether Mr. Lippa didn't hire him or her? Whether this is payback time?

Do I think a professional can handle criticism? Sure - when it's professional criticism. The way that works in print journalism is that a professional critic follows editorial standards and controls against bias and conflict of interest, and reveals his or her identity in the byline. When a chat board is anonymous, peoples' comments are constrained more by their consciences. How they use the opportunity they are given affects the reputation and worth of the chat board.

I have an idea: Maybe anyone who wants to criticize someone's total worth as an artist can reveal their identity and post their comments under a byline on Huffington Post. That way, the reader can evaluate the source, any bias or conflict of interest, and the merit of their opinion more easily.

'Nuff said.
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dramamama611
Broadway Legend
joined:12/4/07
Andrew Lippa Question
Posted: 11/23/13 at 10:54am
No, they are criticizing he WORK. No one said he was an awful person, or that he should change professions, or that he needs to lose weight. They talked about his work.

If you think discussion boards are just a place for mutual positive agreement, you are wrong. Mr Lippa is a grown up and doesn't need you defending him. When you are in the public eye, that's part of what happens.

Why would you assume that people's opinions can only be negative because they have an ax to grind? MOST of the people here just love theater, love talking about it -- and that means sometimes having opinions that are negative. If you love 'everything' then you really love nothing.
If we're not having fun, then why are we doing it? These are DISCUSSION boards, not mutual admiration boards. Discussion only occurs when we are willing to hear what others are thinking, regardless of whether it is alignment to our own thoughts.
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RippedMan
Broadway Legend
joined:8/14/05
Andrew Lippa Question
Posted: 11/23/13 at 12:39pm
I remember hearing his concert at 54 Below, and I couldn't remember one thing he sang. He said he was previewing his upcoming musical, Big Fish. And I was like "Really? These are the songs you chose?" They just didn't stick in my head, and they didn't have any musical placement. They were bland and they could be used for any number of musicals. I wish he had had some sort of musical theme in the show. Like, a musical tone that would work for the big adventurous stories, but then a more simplistic style for the "real moments." etc. But it all just sounded the same.

As for Adams Family.... not every darn character needs a song. There was no reason why Terrance Mann's character needed a song. That was just terrible.
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HogansHero
Leading Actor
joined:2/26/12
Andrew Lippa Question
Posted: 11/23/13 at 12:57pm
I agree that nothing in this thread is personal-just individual assessments of Lippa's work to date. In some cases (including mine) it isn't even really a substantive assessment of the work, but an analysis of how his scores have not demonstrably contributed to the success of shows in which he has been involved (and therefore questioning the sensibility of continued investment in his work).

Underlying the tension that is evident in this thread is the disconnect between musical theatre and popular music. On the one hand, there is music that might be deemed great in a non-profit setting where commercial success ought not to be the prime focus. On the other hand, when we have shows that are intended to be commercial from the outset-and that's true of both of Lippa's last two shows-you have to cross that bridge between good and saleable, and Lippa is clearly not supplying any of the building blocks for that bridge. Actually, it's because folks writing for musical theatre are not inclined to cross that bridge very often that we have so many jukebox musicals. The music has to come from somewhere.
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Mr Roxy
Broadway Legend
joined:5/17/03
Andrew Lippa Question
Posted: 11/23/13 at 01:21pm
One of the investors in Fish was a person you may have heard of - Jimmy Buffett

Mr Buffett has a fair amount of experience as a songwriter and a performer and should have a little more expertise in the area of song than we do as he has built a nice career writing and singing songs among other endeavors.

He thought enough of the show and scores potential that he invested in the show. He had confidence in Mr Lippa and that to me says a lot.

Years ago a really prolific songwriter Charles Aznavour penned a score called Lautrec for London audiences. He has written over 700 songs and is known as the French Sinatra. The critics were cool to him also. Seems to me the critics may be misguided having no idea what it takes to write a song - good/bad or indifferent.

I liked this a hell of a lot more than Wicked or Mamma Mia

Tell me how can a critic criticize something he is incapable of doing himself ?

Cynicism is an unpleasant way of saying the truth - Lillian Hellman.
Updated On: 11/23/13 at 01:21 PM
KathyNYC2
Broadway Legend
joined:12/2/10
Andrew Lippa Question
Posted: 11/23/13 at 01:35pm
"Tell me how can a critic criticize something he is incapable of doing himself ?"

I don't think I agree with that statement. I mean I can watch a figure skating championship and I can see that some performers are much better than others and I can see where one succeeds and one does not. But I personally can't stand up on the ice because of my weak ankles, bad knees and general tendency towards clumsiness. Does that mean I can't have a critical opinion that's valid.

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Mr Roxy
Broadway Legend
joined:5/17/03
Andrew Lippa Question
Posted: 11/23/13 at 01:46pm
It is all a matter of opinion

Almost everyone loved The Producers but some did not. Fish did not get horrible reviews and with a more bankable (to tourists) star it might have lasted longer. These would be considered unanimous raves for a Wildhorn show. He gets roasted here but is a success outside the US. Who is right and who is wrong. The problem is people put to much stock in the critics. Shows they have raved about I loathed & ones they panned I liked . I agreed with them also re good and bad ones. Unfortunately with prices at ridiculous levels more and more people will listen to them than ever before .

A friend of mine who was a TV producer told me once he went to a show and a critic was in front of him speaking to a friend. He told his friend before it started he intended to pan the show in the hopes of closing it as an actor was in the show he did not like

Fair & objective? Wildhorn is to critics is like waving a red flag in front of a bull. No way can they be objective as they know before they go in that they will not like it. It seems to be that way with Lippa but not as obvious as it is with Wildhorn.
Cynicism is an unpleasant way of saying the truth - Lillian Hellman.

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