Beloved Theater in 2013 That Baffled, Bored or Bugged You?

Sutton Ross
Broadway Legend
joined:7/20/13
This is fantastic, thank you!

"This deafening musical about a violent love triangle was so hip I nearly choked."

That's incredible funny, I nearly chocked on my drink when Will Swenson stood on my table. Yummy. But yeah, SO DAMN HIP.
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CreatureKitchen
Swing
joined:10/20/13
I completely agree with what you said about Pippin. I thought the performances and concept were great, but the story itself is really dull and juvenile. A good production of a pretty poor show.

I can't really speak about Kinky Boots since I haven't actually seen it. However, I have seen the cast perform multiple songs (Tony Awards, Macy's, etc.) and haven't really enjoyed it. It seems super predictable and just sort of a generic feel-good story. Maybe I'm just prejudiced because I love Matilda so much and am still a bit bitter that Kinky beat it at the Tony's...
undercoveractor
Stand-by
joined:9/12/08
This is a no brainer for me.
By far, the most baffling piece of theater that I saw in 2013 was THE TESTAMENT OF MARY. I love Fiona Shaw, so I was excited to see it, but I have never felt so trapped in a theater in my life. After white knuckling it up through the crucifixion, I realized that I still had to make it through the resurrection! I was trapped like a rat in the middle of the row in the middle of that hot, cramped balcony with no way to escape! I think that I would rather smoke a turd in hell than ever go through that experience again.
Also, I was nervous that the buzzard would get spooked and fly into the audience.
Mr Roxy
Broadway Legend
joined:5/17/03
Bad Jews. Oy vey was that agony sitting thru.

Of the original 10 I only saw Kinky and Pippin and agree on both.

Cynicism is an unpleasant way of saying the truth - Lillian Hellman.
Updated On: 12/11/13 at 01:02 AM
VotePeron
Leading Actor
joined:5/2/13
I couldn't agree more with Pippin! And for me, it was Hands On A Hardbody. Ooof.
cknick
Understudy
joined:5/9/13
I thought TESTAMENT OF MARY was incredible. My kind of brave, thought provoking theater.
undercoveractor
Stand-by
joined:9/12/08
I wanted to like TESTAMENT OF MARY, I really did. Actually, I would love to read that script or the novel that it was adapted from because I think that would connect with me. But the night I saw it, the theatre was so cramped and hot that I was on the verge of a panic attack for the entire performance.....that certainly did not help.
KathyNYC2
Broadway Star
joined:12/2/10
I haven't seen most of the shows listed but I do agree about Pippin..which had great performances and interesting circus additions but I am never going to like the show, no matter how it's produced. It just feels so dated to me.

I understand what was said about KB but I don't know if I totally agree. I think sometimes there are intangibles that are hard to describe or critique and KB has those elements that raise it up ( no pun intended) in my opinion.

I am going to add here an unpopular opinion by many I know by putting Matilda here. I enjoyed many parts of the show and I have seen it three times already so it's not like I don't appreciate it...but it's just not "Broadway's gift to the universe" to me. It always feels a little disjointed, the sound (as noted many times) is horrific, the robotic choreography is questionable to me, and I have a hard time with the idea that you really have to know the music to fully appreciate it because I didn't understand most of it at first viewing. Again, I like it very much (and I have appreciated it more each time I have seen it) but I just don't feel it's the most amazing show on the planet as its touted by many.
After Eight
Broadway Legend
joined:6/5/09
Many of the shows on my worst of 2013 list filled the bill -- amply -- in at least one of these categories, some in all three, such as the atrocious Mr.Burns. I might also add that others also incensed, and/or revolted me, as when a ten year old miauled her pre-pubescent longing for a delivery woman. I'm telling you.....!

The worst offering of this year --- or any other-- did all of these things, and a few others as well: that screechingly abrasive, offensive, obnoxious horror show, Bad Jews.

As for the others, all of which bugged me no end, (and some of which, like those Playwrights Horizons ordeals, never seemed to end), I was bugged, bothered and bewildered that they were even produced at all. (Of course, it goes withoit saying that they received ecstatic reviews from the critics. But after all, how could one have expected otherwise from that illustrious crew?)

Fun Home
Mr. Burns
The Flick
Belleville
The Watson Intelligence
Small Engine Repair
The Model Apartment
All in the Timing
A Bed and a Chair
Murder Ballad

Also:

Mark Rylance's performances.


Updated On: 12/12/13 at 08:06 AM
themysteriousgrowl
Broadway Legend
joined:11/10/10

This is my ideal BWW thread: After Eight bait, with an OP hyperlink.

Better than CATS. I'll read it again and again.
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After Eight
Broadway Legend
joined:6/5/09
Kathy,

I agree with your caveats about Matilda. After all the hype, I found it a chore to sit through, unintelligible and unpleasant a good deal of the time. The score left me cold as well.
themysteriousgrowl
Broadway Legend
joined:11/10/10

What a terrible waste of money.
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iluvtheatertrash
Broadway Legend
joined:11/9/04
Couldn't agree with you more about MURDER BALLAD. Simply excruciating. But even worse was the endless, painful, skill of endurance... BAD JEWS.
"I know now that theatre saved my life." - Susan Stroman
dreaming
Broadway Legend
joined:4/24/09
I really loved Bad Jews, actually. (Guess I'm in the vast minority.)

And to put myself in an even vaster minority-I don't get the hype around "Natasha, Pierre et al.". It's good in the moment but I don't remember a single song or moment after. I have no desire to pick up the recording-although I don't deny the talent of the performers, it just left me cold.

My baffled list would include Matilda. I really was let down by that one. (And can't for the life of me understand how it got the raves it did.) I also was not a fan of Hands on a Hardbody at all.

Updated On: 12/11/13 at 10:00 AM
cknick
Understudy
joined:5/9/13
"I wanted to like TESTAMENT OF MARY, I really did. Actually, I would love to read that script or the novel that it was adapted from because I think that would connect with me."

Yes! I did read the book first and I think it helped a great deal. Sometimes doing a lot of research before seeing a show can spoil the moment, but in this case I think it added to my appreciation of it!
After Eight
Broadway Legend
joined:6/5/09
Dreaming,

I agree with you about Comet. I liked some of the songs, and the actors were sure put through a workout! But it really was a bore, and I was eager for it to end.
dreaming
Broadway Legend
joined:4/24/09
After Eight-I think in my case I liked it more while it was happening-it just failed to stick with me. I had no recollection of anything once I left. (Not sure if that was the intent-but I doubt it.)

darquegk
Broadway Legend
joined:2/5/09
While After Eight's criticism of Matilda fits into his usual caveat that good musical theatre is joyous, life-affirming and upbeat, I fail to understand why he would bother to attend what is essentially a musical comedy about child endangerment and lifelong emotional abuse, with the essential moral "life gets worse until it gets better."
themysteriousgrowl
Broadway Legend
joined:11/10/10

Because it MIGHT have turned out to be THE PAJAMA GAME. Keep up, darquegk.
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NewYorkTheater
Broadway Star
joined:1/23/10
The mission here was to voice a dissent against shows that other people consider "beloved."
Did anybody consider Testament of Mary beloved? A few (maybe even a considerable minority) might have found it provocative, even ultimately moving. But I think the consensus about that show was that it was not lovely.
Similarly The Flick and Hands on a Hardbody had many detractors.
It's much harder to dislike (or even be indifferent to) a show that everybody around you is swooning over.
HorseTears
Broadway Legend
joined:3/25/05
I have to agree with number 3 on the list. Truly baffled by the rapturous reception this show has received.

As for Pippin, while I know I'll get slammed for this, seeing this production made me realize how much stronger both the score and, YES, the book are. Stronger than I gave them credit for in the past. Yes, that meta ending is always problematic and yes, Fosse's original production certainly elevated the material, but I reject the idea that Fosse made magic out of nothing. I think all the raw ingredients were there.
darquegk
Broadway Legend
joined:2/5/09
Also keep in mind the fact that this is NOT the original book and score to the show. Major variations to the actual written material of the show have included:

1. Pippin Pippin, Schwartz's original draft of the show in a commedia dell'arte setting pre-Fosse.
2. Roger O. Hirson's original book to Pippin, floating around today as the "Manuscript copy"
3. Fosse's extensive revision to the Hirson book
4. The Goodspeed revision, which utilized some of Fosse and Hirson's work while adding and cutting jokes and scenes, with completely new orchestrations and the first appearance of the currently canonical "alternate ending."
5. The MTI revised draft, which reflects a fusion of the best Hirson, Fosse and Goodspeed elements.
6. The current Broadway revival, with new orchestrations and book elements, in a script loosely based on the MTI revised draft for structure.
HorseTears
Broadway Legend
joined:3/25/05
Thanks for that, darquegk. Was not aware of that history. At what stage was the 1980-something production? Assume it reflected Fosse's revisions?
CreatureKitchen
Swing
joined:10/20/13
Huh, really? I actually found the meta ending of Pippin to be the most interesting part of the story.

I think what bothered me is that Pippin is essentially a naive, not all that smart young man trying to find his place in the world and he's dissatisfied with everything he tries until he's literally about to die and then he's like "Oh, wait, I guess a boring, domestic life is better than burning to death."
I find that really problematic. He doesn't learn anything or grow as a character.
After Eight
Broadway Legend
joined:6/5/09
Whatever version of the book to Pippin is used in this revival, it's still lousy. I found it even more juvenile, simple minded, and self-centered than the first time. And the score is no great shakes, either. I guess Fosse did an even greater job than we realized.

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