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Worst Production Values

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bwayphreak234
Broadway Legend
joined:7/4/10
Worst Production Values
Posted: 12/11/13 at 12:39am
The other thread got me thinking, what are some of the WORST production values you have seen? Least favorite scenic designs?

Production Values
Beauty and the Beast (current national tour)
Wonderland
Little Mermaid
La Cage Aux Folles (national tour of the most recent revival)
White Christmas (2011 tour)
Flashdance the Musical
Happy Days (national tour)
"There’s nothing quite like the power and the passion of Broadway music. "
CATSNYrevival
Broadway Legend
joined:3/1/04
Worst Production Values
Posted: 12/11/13 at 01:05am
What's wrong with Beauty and the Beast? It's not as elaborate or expensive as the original, but it looks pretty decent in pictures. Is it worse in person?
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bwayto
Broadway Star
joined:12/5/11
Worst Production Values
Posted: 12/11/13 at 01:15am
Caught the current Non-Eq BATB in Toronto a while back.

I saw Kerry Butler in the Toronto sitdown of the Original production in the 90's and thought it was incredible.

When you compare the current tour to those memories, it's disappointing.

However, the three children I was with absolutely loved it - and I did enjoy the actual show. For a non-eq production, I thought the cast was fantastic. (In Toronto they actually were chancing the cast at the time so I saw two sets of principal actors in the show - they were all fantastic)

Not the best production values, not the worst either.

The thing I missed most was a "castle set". The castle in this production was just made up of a bunch of non-tracked stair cases, moved by actors in gargoyle costumes.
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Chowd95 Profile Photo
Chowd95
Swing
joined:7/16/13
Worst Production Values
Posted: 12/11/13 at 01:45am
Big: The Musical
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iluvtheatertrash
Broadway Legend
joined:11/9/04
Worst Production Values
Posted: 12/11/13 at 08:24am
Did BIG really look cheap? I was about 6 years old when I saw it, and it was my first Broadway experience. That might explain why I've always thought it was dazzling.

SCANDALOUS looked awfully cheap. The white stairs were nicked and dented all over the place, with black scuff marks.
"I know now that theatre saved my life." - Susan Stroman
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tazber
Broadway Legend
joined:5/10/05
Worst Production Values
Posted: 12/11/13 at 08:42am
Chess (Broadway)

A bunch of moving grey monoliths. Drab, dreary, without character, and overwhelming to the action happening onstage.
....but the world goes 'round
After Eight
Broadway Legend
joined:6/5/09
Worst Production Values
Posted: 12/11/13 at 08:59am
There's an oddity here. Many off-Boafway productions have impressive sets while quite a few Broadway ones look as if they were dredged up from some bargain basement: Leap of Faith, Bring It On, Hands on a Hardbody come readily to mind. I don't know if I even want to recall any others.

In the good old days, when first-class production values were the norm, shows that looked cheap really shocked both the eyes and sensibilities. I remember being astounded at the shoddy production values of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. And this for a show by Leonard Bernstein and Alan Jay Lerner! Then there was a bare-bones little stinker called Baby, which had no business being on Broadway, or anywhere else, for that matter.



Updated On: 12/11/13 at 08:59 AM
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StageStruckLad
Featured Actor
joined:3/13/13
Worst Production Values
Posted: 12/11/13 at 09:33am
Hands-down winner: the original Merrily We Roll Along. Those bleachers that made so much noise as the cast clunked up and down on them.
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ClydeBarrow
Broadway Legend
joined:6/20/12
Worst Production Values
Posted: 12/11/13 at 09:40am
Soul Doctor and the Jekyll & Hyde revival.
"Pardon my prior Mcfee slip. I know how to spell her name. I just don't know how to type it." -Talulah
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Mattbrain
Broadway Legend
joined:11/23/05
Worst Production Values
Posted: 12/11/13 at 09:47am
Clyde, I'll see your Jekyll & Hyde revival and raise ya a Leap of Faith. I'm one of the few people who actually thought that show was decent….but talk about your ass-ugly set design.

And I'm just gonna come right out and say it…the '08 revival of Gypsy. Still one of my favorite nights in the theater but that set design looked hella cheap.
Butters, go buy World of Warcraft, install it on your computer, and join the online sensation before we all murder you. --Cartman: South Park ATTENTION FANS: I will be played by James Barbour in the upcoming musical, "BroadwayWorld: The Musical."
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morosco
Broadway Legend
joined:7/10/04
Worst Production Values
Posted: 12/11/13 at 09:51am
I thought the sets for the Broadway production of SIDE SHOW were lacking.

The 2011 production of ON A CLEAR DAY had sets that were not only ugly, they were amateurish.
After Eight
Broadway Legend
joined:6/5/09
Worst Production Values
Posted: 12/11/13 at 10:30am
"Hands-down winner: the original Merrily We Roll Along."

Ain't that the truth. The only thing worse was the show itself!
ARTc3
Broadway Star
joined:8/5/13
Worst Production Values
Posted: 12/11/13 at 12:43pm
tazber, I thought the Broadway production of Chess was brilliant - especially the scenic design. Those "drab, dreary, without character" towers and the technologies that positioned them were some of the most technically sophisticated and difficult stagecraft for its time. Their fluidity created a cinematic approach to direction / storytelling that I found dazzling and totally engaging. The set was constantly changing allowing smooth transitions from location-to-location unlike most stage shows of its time. Chess was Robin Wagner (designer) picking up where Dreamgirls had left off.

I loved Broadway's Chess and thought it completely misunderstood partially based on the very different production and poorly received London production (which I also saw and didn't like). All of this confused with Michael Bennett getting sick and not being able to complete his vision.

I couldn't disagree with your choice to include Chess more. In fact, I'd place it on my list of favorite set designs.

(I am thankful for this forum for allowing this debate, though.)

ARTc3 formerly ARTc. Actually been a poster since 2004. My name isn't Art. Drop the "3" and say the signature and you'll understand.
Updated On: 12/11/13 at 12:43 PM
ARTc3
Broadway Star
joined:8/5/13
Worst Production Values
Posted: 12/11/13 at 12:49pm
I agree that Merrily We Roll Along was horribly designed. I always thought rather than setting it in a high school gym, it should have been set in a high school auditorium and done as if it was the school's drama club's yearly production. The visual metaphor would have worked so much better with the original choice to cast young actors.

Having typed this, up until Merrily, I had always enjoyed Fran and Eugene Lee's work. I loved Candide and their immersive reconstruction of The Broadway Theatre.
ARTc3 formerly ARTc. Actually been a poster since 2004. My name isn't Art. Drop the "3" and say the signature and you'll understand.
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morosco
Broadway Legend
joined:7/10/04
Worst Production Values
Posted: 12/11/13 at 01:04pm
I thought the Broadway production of Chess was brilliant - especially the scenic design.

I agree. This was 1988 before computer automation controlled just about every piece of moving scenery as it does today. I believe I remember reading that each tower had a stage hand inside with a headset, a flashlight, and a compass to accomplish the movements. And to top it off they were on a turntable which meant that they had to constantly reorient themselves to account for the turns.

Updated On: 12/11/13 at 01:04 PM
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somethingbypuccini 2
Stand-by
joined:5/12/13
Worst Production Values
Posted: 12/11/13 at 01:11pm
I'm surprised no one has mentioned Baby It's You yet.
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dreaming
Broadway Legend
joined:4/24/09
Worst Production Values
Posted: 12/11/13 at 01:15pm
somthingbypuccini-That was the first thought that ran through my head. Yuck. That might take the cake for me with worst production values-the set looked really cheap. (And frankly I thought the lighting design was horrid.)
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morosco
Broadway Legend
joined:7/10/04
Worst Production Values
Posted: 12/11/13 at 01:18pm
The current production of ANNIE looks cheap.
WOSQ
Broadway Legend
joined:7/18/03
Worst Production Values
Posted: 12/11/13 at 01:23pm
I did not like the set to Chess, but the technology (or lack thereof) is correct. Each of those things had a stagehand or two inside moving them by hand and body. There were no windows either so everything was done by compass or marks on the floor or both. There was no ventilation so they were all only in their gym shorts. Because of the plotting of the scenery, the show itself could not be rearranged nor scenes cut--the scenes had to stay in the order that they started so rewrites were confined to within each scene.

I think with Chess, they thought they had a hit right up to the first preview which lasted about 4 hours and an intermission that was around 40 minutes. And then there was the show. I saw it at about preview #5 and intermission was down to 20-25 minutes. The word-of-mouth during previews help bury the show.

Speaking of bad/horrid word-of-mouth during previews, the original Merrily was far uglier. It takes the prize for the worst.

Tarzan was fairly misbegotten too.

"If my life weren't funny, it would just be true. And that would be unacceptable." --Carrie Fisher
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jnb9872
Broadway Legend
joined:11/24/08
Worst Production Values
Posted: 12/11/13 at 01:32pm
No contest for me: the Al Pacino revival of GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS looked like a community theatre set that they pulled out of a dumpster. Especially having seen the Alan Alda/Liev Schreiber revival (which was both much better acted and incredibly-better produced to the extreme), this last one felt like the Schoenfeld turned into a proscenium-shaped portal into a high school auditorium.
Words don't deserve that kind of malarkey. They're innocent, neutral, precise, standing for this, describing that, meaning the other, so if you look after them you can build bridges across incomprehension and chaos. But when they get their corners knocked off, they're no good anymore…I don't think writers are sacred, but words are. They deserve respect. If you get the right ones in the right order, you can nudge the world a little.
ARTc3
Broadway Star
joined:8/5/13
Worst Production Values
Posted: 12/11/13 at 01:37pm
On the technology used for Chess... It was even more complex than suggested above. Yes, there were stagehands inside each of the towers, but they followed LCD lights that were on the floor. (Originally, it was thought that the towers would move using radio control. This didn't work out.) The entire stage deck - including a massive turntable - was a huge LCD monitor with computer programmed lighting. This allowed for extremely complex movement of these towers and alignment that was for me simply amazing.

As for the show's book being a slave to the towers, I have never heard this and I question its validity. I have an old stagecraft magazine dedicated to the Broadway production of Chess and the technologies it employed and from what I've read, there was a fair amount of flexibility in designing the movement of the towers because of the computer systems and stagehands they used.

As I wrote above, I think what hurt Chess the most was the combination of Michael Bennett supposedly having directed the London production (he was sick at the time and from many accounts wasn't always available), the anticipation of Michael Bennett's new show and the poor reception the London production received. When it came to New York with a new director, new designs, cast, etc., I think the legacy of the London failure was a dark cloud over the production.

It is also true that technically, it was a very complex show and that the initial previews ran way too long. Broadway Chess suffered from horrible word of mouth and media gossip / rumor. What I saw, towards the end of its very short run, was polished and brilliant. I consider Chess to be one of Broadway's many brilliant failures.





ARTc3 formerly ARTc. Actually been a poster since 2004. My name isn't Art. Drop the "3" and say the signature and you'll understand.
Updated On: 12/11/13 at 01:37 PM
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morosco
Broadway Legend
joined:7/10/04
Worst Production Values
Posted: 12/11/13 at 01:49pm
Worst Production Values

A photo from the Broadway production of CHESS.

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themysteriousgrowl
Broadway Legend
joined:11/10/10
Worst Production Values
Posted: 12/11/13 at 02:04pm

It looks like the technologies that positioned those were some of the most technically sophisticated and difficult stagecraft for its time.
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James885
Broadway Legend
joined:5/2/05
Worst Production Values
Posted: 12/11/13 at 02:05pm
Tarzan. The set was essentially a big box with giant ugly green cords along the walls and the sides.
"You drank a charm to kill John Proctor's wife! You drank a charm to kill Goody Proctor!" - Betty Parris to Abigail Williams in Arthur Miller's The Crucible
ARTc3
Broadway Star
joined:8/5/13
Worst Production Values
Posted: 12/11/13 at 02:56pm
morosco, thanks for the photo.
ARTc3 formerly ARTc. Actually been a poster since 2004. My name isn't Art. Drop the "3" and say the signature and you'll understand.
morosco Profile Photo
morosco
Broadway Legend
joined:7/10/04
Worst Production Values
Posted: 12/11/13 at 03:08pm
It's the only photo of CHESS that I could find online. If anyone has any others please post them for us.

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