Lost Brilliant Productions

ARTc3
Broadway Star
joined:8/5/13
Lost Brilliant Productions
Posted: 4/22/14 at 11:50am
A moment ago, I added a post to the Jesus Christ thread and it reminded me of a host of really cool shows that I saw at The Public a hundred years ago that didn't get picked up for a transfer to a larger house and longer run. New Jerusalem came to mind. A play noir that has haunted me since I saw it those many years ago. Andrei Serban's The Master and Margarita was another. Actually there are many...

It is my intention with this thread to open a discussion of those shows - Broadway, or not - that were amazing, but as they found only a limited audience, they are rarely discussed, if ever. Broadway shows that were brilliant, but failed are prime candidates for this thread, as is Off- and Off-Off Broadway, well produced shows that really pushed the envelope.

I will be adding many shows to this list. I hope that many of you will join me.





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: 4/22/14 at 11:50 AM
ARTc3
Broadway Star
joined:8/5/13
Lost Brilliant Productions
Posted: 4/22/14 at 11:58am
The Shakespeare in the Park production of, A Midsummer's Night Dream staring Will Hurt as Oberon. I was mesmerized by this production and will never forget his entrance: rising out of the dirt.

And, another production of Midsummer that I saw at Vassar in their black box, Powerhouse Theater. This one had us sitting on rugs on the floor as the actors climbed all over the physical space. Much of the fairies was played directly overhead on a floor of cyclone fencing that after a few moments sort of just disappeared giving the breathtaking illusion of the fairies flying.

More to come...

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: 4/22/14 at 11:58 AM
henrikegerman
Broadway Legend
joined:4/29/05
Lost Brilliant Productions
Posted: 4/22/14 at 12:01pm
I'm one of those people who loved "Triumph of Love," which, see link, divided the critics, couldn't find an audience, and might well have been far better received off-Broadway than on.
"love should triumph"
AC126748
Broadway Legend
joined:7/15/06
Lost Brilliant Productions
Posted: 4/22/14 at 12:31pm
Given the ephemeral nature of theatre, the idea of certain performances or productions being "lost" to those who weren't fortunate enough to see them is just part of the territory.

That said, I wish everyone could have had the chance to see Lauren Ward in VIOLET.
"You travel alone because other people are only there to remind you how much that hook hurts that we all bit down on. Wait for that one day we can bite free and get back out there in space where we belong, sail back over water, over skies, into space, the hook finally out of our mouths and we wander back out there in space spawning to other planets never to return hurrah to earth and we'll look back and can't even see these lives here anymore. Only the taste of blood to remind us we ever existed. The earth is small. We're gone. We're dead. We're safe." -John Guare, Landscape of the Body
ARTc3
Broadway Star
joined:8/5/13
Lost Brilliant Productions
Posted: 4/22/14 at 01:02pm
^ So true. But, I love the idea of a thread to remember and honor those productions that moved us and are often forgotten by the larger public.
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.
GavestonPS
Broadway Legend
joined:6/10/12
Lost Brilliant Productions
Posted: 4/22/14 at 05:04pm
Two of my very favorite plays--coincidentally both are plays with music--had very successful runs in LA, but closed quickly in New York.

Joshua Sobol's GHETTO, an Israeli play, won an award for Best Play in London and had a very successful production at the Mark Taper Forum in LA. It only ran four or five weeks in New York. It's about a Yiddish theatrical troupe confined in the Vilna ghetto during WWII and uses songs actually performed in that place and time. But what is so brilliant about it, among Holocaust plays, is that it ultimately isn't about how the Holocaust was terrible (almost all theatergoers agree it was), but about the issue of collaboration with evil.

Another LA play that died quickly in New York is Luis Valdez' ZOOT SUIT. It isn't exactly "lost"--there's a film version starring Edward James Olmos and Tyne Daly which is very faithful to the play. In its day it was the longest running original play in Los Angeles, but I don't think it has ever quite received its due because it was poorly received in New York. For that failure I blame the marketing, which announced it as a "musical". ZOOT SUIT does have music, but only in a very Brechtian way. Playgoers expecting WEST SIDE STORY were bound to be disappointed.
GavestonPS
Broadway Legend
joined:6/10/12
Lost Brilliant Productions
Posted: 4/22/14 at 05:05pm
(Ah, now I see how those duplicate posts happen!)
Updated On: 4/22/14 at 05:05 PM
Michael Bennett
Broadway Legend
joined:3/16/05
Lost Brilliant Productions
Posted: 4/22/14 at 05:17pm
Also pretty sure some of these were filmed for the TOFT collection at Lincoln Center.
ARTc3
Broadway Star
joined:8/5/13
Lost Brilliant Productions
Posted: 4/22/14 at 05:34pm
I remember Zoot Suit.

Favorite unrecognized Broadway that immediately comes to mind:

Big Deal

Bob Fosse's last original Broadway musical (he was also directing a revival of Sweet Charity at the time). Had a breathtaking Loretta Devine soon after her amazing Dreamgirls role. And, of course spectacular choreography.

Something's Afoot

Hysterical musical comedy. Sort of the A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder of its time. And, it starred Tessie O'Shea. That was a treat.

End of the World

Fascinating play noir staring John Shea, Bernard Hughes and Linda Hunt. Was so impressed, I saw this twice. Lasted only a few weeks.

Is there life after high school?

I have been a Craig Carnelia since first seeing this musical. Another surprise find.

There are more...


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: 4/22/14 at 05:34 PM
mikey2573
Broadway Star
joined:12/28/10
Lost Brilliant Productions
Posted: 4/22/14 at 05:34pm
Wasn't the William Hurt "Midsummer" televised on PBS? I seem to remember my local library having a video of this. It took place on what looked like real grass and trees.
Mr Roxy
Broadway Legend
joined:5/17/03
Lost Brilliant Productions
Posted: 4/22/14 at 05:35pm
Saw Something's Afoot also.
Cynicism is an unpleasant way of saying the truth - Lillian Hellman.
EricMontreal22
Broadway Legend
joined:10/31/11
Lost Brilliant Productions
Posted: 4/22/14 at 05:47pm
Showtime televised Something's Afoot in the mid 80s--in what I *assume* was essentially the Broadway staging, although not cast. It seems to be an example of a show that did very well regionally (I think Goodspeed?) but for whatever reason didn't catch on in New York--as have a few other shows mentioned here. The Andy Gibb (!) version for television was done in Canada, the way for money reasons a number of productions were filmed in the early 80s. I am surprised the show doesn't come up more often in amateur and small scale regional groups (or at least not that I've noticed.) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7aamLDs_0ik

There's a decent "recording" but there of Big Deal. Of course that's not a fair way to judge, but it seems like a very flawed show with some killer numbers and performances. A gloomy stage set, and if they were going to use non-original songs, they could have done more with them, IMHO (the recent Fosse bio revealed that ten years earlier Fosse asked Sondheim to do an adaptation of the same Italian film, Big Deal on Madonna Street but back then he was wanting to re-set it in Mexico, for some reason, and not Chicago. Sondheim liked the idea of adapting the film but apparently hated Mariachi music--or so the bio indirectly quotes him saying--so said he couldn't do it.) Of course the tony performance of Beat Me Daddy is brilliant--it was originally going to be in Fosse and apparently always got a huge audience reaction but was cut partly because in many ways it was similar to Dancin's Sing Sing Sing which they wanted to use as the encore. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hddHviVLjCo
ARTc3
Broadway Star
joined:8/5/13
Lost Brilliant Productions
Posted: 4/22/14 at 05:47pm
"Midsummer" with William Hurt might have been televised, and if so, all the more reason to visit The Museum of Television and Radio (Broadcasting). It was played on a very simple set that had real grass, a tree and a small brook. It was a stunning production with exquisite touches of magic: William Hurt's entrance up through the earth, Titania floating asleep in the tree.

What I'm real interested in seeing if anyone else saw, New Jerusalem at The Public Theater. That was amazing. Had one of the most creative and clever set I have ever seen Off-Broadway. Hmmm. Set wise, I'll add, Trixie True Teen Detective to my list of great shows.
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.
ARTc3
Broadway Star
joined:8/5/13
Lost Brilliant Productions
Posted: 4/22/14 at 05:51pm
EricMontreal22, thank you so much for your post and links. Something Afoot, didn't find an audience partly due to a newspaper strike that was going on at the time. The show opened to great reviews, but they weren't printed. Nobody knew the show was even here. I totally stumbled into it one afternoon having a few hours to kill and it being up on the TKTS board.
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.
Gothampc
Broadway Legend
joined:5/20/03
Lost Brilliant Productions
Posted: 4/22/14 at 06:09pm
I think there are many off-Broadway productions, some brilliant some not, that are lost. Not all of them reached the success level of something like Little Shop Of Horrors or Rent.

the Howard Crabtree musicals

Zombie Prom

The Green Heart

Ruthless

Cowgirls

the Brady Bunch spoofs

The Mystery of Irma Vep (and the other Ridiculous productions)

Reefer Madness
If anyone ever tells you that you put too much Parmesan cheese on your pasta, stop talking to them. You don't need that kind of negativity in your life.
Marway44
Leading Actor
joined:6/7/05
Lost Brilliant Productions
Posted: 4/23/14 at 06:40am
It always amazed me with the amazing score that "Side Show" couldn't find an audience but I'm glad it's coming back in another form. I hope this revised production does well.
devonian.t
Broadway Legend
joined:7/26/04
Lost Brilliant Productions
Posted: 4/23/14 at 10:34am
Count me in with Triumph of Love and the nearly-brilliant Amour.
Mr Roxy
Broadway Legend
joined:5/17/03
Lost Brilliant Productions
Posted: 4/23/14 at 10:55am
Ditto for Sideshow & Amour.
Cynicism is an unpleasant way of saying the truth - Lillian Hellman.
Someone in a Tree2
Broadway Star
joined:10/9/12
Lost Brilliant Productions
Posted: 4/23/14 at 11:53am
The OP's mention of Andrei Serban reminds me of Serban's breathtaking production of The Cherry Orchard at Lincoln Center back in 1976 starring Irene Worth. A spectacular cast (including Meryl Street in a minor comedic role) and gorgeous dreamlike sets by Santo Loquasto rewrote the rules for performing Chekhov.
daredevil
Stand-by
joined:8/17/05
Lost Brilliant Productions
Posted: 4/23/14 at 12:06pm
In April of 1980, or close to that, the Public did a fully staged workshop of a play by Israel Horowitz called Sunday Runners in the Rain. A terrific ensemble piece, I remember Peter Riegert, Maureen Anderman, William Hickey, and Neil Vipond, among the cast. It was beautifully written and had an incredible flow about it, but Joe Papp apparently was not interested in giving it a full run for the Public Subcribers. Sad, because it was of the best things I saw during that era.
perfectlymarvelous
Broadway Legend
joined:5/21/07
Lost Brilliant Productions
Posted: 4/23/14 at 01:28pm
I wouldn't exactly call Reefer Madness "lost" since it was adapted into a film with several of the original cast members from the off-Broadway production.

Even though it received a cast recording, I feel like See What I Wanna See is something that no one ever really talks about. I saw it when it was at the Public and fell in love with it...it was my first LaChiusa show.
Mister Matt
Broadway Legend
joined:5/17/03
Lost Brilliant Productions
Posted: 4/23/14 at 03:00pm
I absolutely loved Marie Christine which should have scored a Tony for Audra. I get why it wasn't a commercial success, but I thought it was a rather monumental work. One of the most powerful and arresting finales I've ever seen. I was utterly fascinated from start to finish and Audra delivered a tour de force performance. I'm so glad I had the chance to see it.

And shows I saw in London that never made it to Broadway:

Cloudstreet
Lord of the Rings
Zorro

I loved Zorro, but I know it probably would never make it on Broadway unless in a smaller house. Lord of the Rings should have taken the Foxwoods back when it had a chance. I think it would have done extremely well. And I never understood why LCT didn't pick up Cloudstreet. A beautiful production that would have been PERFECT for the Beaumont exactly as it was staged at the National. One of those two-part epic plays where you could catch both parts in one Saturday (7.5 hours with intermissions). I saw it all in one day and could have easily done it again.
"What can you expect from a bunch of seitan worshippers?" - Reginald Tresilian
Gothampc
Broadway Legend
joined:5/20/03
Lost Brilliant Productions
Posted: 4/23/14 at 04:12pm
"I wouldn't exactly call Reefer Madness "lost" since it was adapted into a film with several of the original cast members from the off-Broadway production."

Oh wow! Somehow I missed this or totally forgot about it. I've never seen it so I'll have to try and find it.
If anyone ever tells you that you put too much Parmesan cheese on your pasta, stop talking to them. You don't need that kind of negativity in your life.
ARTc3
Broadway Star
joined:8/5/13
Lost Brilliant Productions
Posted: 4/23/14 at 04:50pm
I was hoping someone reading this thread would remember, New Jerusalem at The Public. For some reason I haven't forgotten this production despite it being many years ago. It is a fascinating play about a journalist reporting on an island penal colony. The genre was play noir. I also remember Dale Soules (spelling?) was in it.

The set was magnificent particularly two breathtaking moments: The island city being created on a darkened stage by stagehands, draped in black, carrying on lit, miniature models of the building. There were many buildings, so it took some time to complete the effect, but it was stunning; and a downstage miniature half height wall that rose up and had miniature street lamps and two action figure sized men who were on conveyor belts. Again, the stage went dark except for the miniature street lights and the two dolls crossed each other. The main actor, in play noir style, did his monologue as a voice over.

There were many other spectacular images, but those two stand out. The whole design really felt like a film noir with the designs creating the effect of close ups, mid-length and long-shots. Stunning. Anyone remember this?



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: 4/23/14 at 04:50 PM
ARTc3
Broadway Star
joined:8/5/13
Lost Brilliant Productions
Posted: 4/23/14 at 04:56pm
OMG! I found this image doing a search... This is the aforementioned scene.

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.
ARTc3
Broadway Star
joined:8/5/13
Lost Brilliant Productions
Posted: 4/23/14 at 05:00pm
I just discovered that Sigourney Weaver was also in New Jerusalem. This was in 1978, way before she became popular, although I do think she was on my radar at the time. Not sure why I didn't remember that she was in this play that has haunted me so. God, I love the Internet!
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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