Most Mediocre Season (...in a long time)?

Play Esq.
Broadway Star
joined:7/10/09

I can't help but feel as though this was the most mediocre New York theater season in quite some time.

I only contemplated this fact when exiting the very well crafted and incredibly acted "City of Conversation" (remarkable). I couldn't help but wonder, what else was actually good this season, much less great. Indeed, I've experienced some incredible productions and moments this season (the Globe double-header, Audra in "Lady Day," "Fun Home," and MckellStewart all come to mind) and await to see a performance that has been defined by many here as transcendent ("Hedwig").

Overall though, I can't help feeling blah about this season. Sure, that happens time and again, but this season (especially Off-Broadway) felt more mediocre than many recent seasons past. Am I wrong here (really really don't mind being proven wrong)? I've seen pretty much everything on Broadway and a good deal Off...but wow, in my view, this has been a very mediocre theater season.

Thoughts?



perfectlymarvelous
Broadway Legend
joined:5/21/07
I think there's a lot of mediocre in every season, really...I feel like it's rare that we get a season that feels overwhelmingly rich. I think we've had quite a bit this season that's worth celebrating, although I haven't seen anywhere near everything. As far as what I've seen (and this is completely subjective, obviously), there's been a lot that has moved me and that I've, at the very least, thoroughly enjoyed. For me personally, I couldn't call a season that gave us the Globe double header, Fun Home, The Glass Menagerie, The Cripple of Inishmaan, Cabaret, Violet, Gentleman's Guide, and The Bridges of Madison County anywhere near mediocre. I walked away from each of those shows with something I didn't have coming in, and loved all of them for different reasons. I think it helps when there's at least one thing that you (and I don't mean you specifically, general you) feel super passionate about for whatever reason. I know I've felt underwhelmed by some things but this year there were a lot of shows that I really had a strong response to, whereas in other years there maybe haven't been as many and that perhaps diminished my opinion of the season as a whole.
dramamama611
Broadway Legend
joined:12/4/07
Can't prove you right or wrong. It's your opinion. But of course, THIS season has just started!

I have to admit, I have been to NY much less this past season as my interest simply has not been driven.
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.
Play Esq.
Broadway Star
joined:7/10/09
Intelligently (and eloquently) stated, perfectlymarvelous.

I agree with your assessment in theory, but not so much in practice. I have seen each of the productions you cited, and though I enjoyed all (with the exception of "Bridges"...sorry) I just can't shake the fact that New York, a world capital for theater, offered a dearth of exceptional theater this season. Somehow, in my opinion, this was a season worse than any other I can think off (caveat...limiting this view to the last 5 to 10 years).

What particularly got to me was the situation off-broadway. "Fun Home" was very good (I wouldn't personally qualify as brilliant) but I felt that there was nothing truly innovative this season. Something akin (and I know this will be polarizing) to "Mr. Burns," "Detroit" or "Bellville."

Updated On: 5/16/14 at 11:34 PM
Play Esq.
Broadway Star
joined:7/10/09
Oh, dramamama611! You know what I mean!



Updated On: 5/16/14 at 11:36 PM
perfectlymarvelous
Broadway Legend
joined:5/21/07
That's completely valid...perhaps our difference of opinion lies in the fact that I haven't gotten a chance to see much of what was off-Broadway this year. Since I'm a poor student I tend to see only what really interests me and there wasn't much besides Fun Home that I was dying to see (although maybe that in and of itself speaks to the quality of the season).

For me, the most innovative and interesting thing this year was The Glass Menagerie, even if purely on a personal/emotional level. I'd studied the play but never really "got" it until seeing that production, and I'm still thinking about it months later. I think theater is very intimate in that way...what utterly transforms one person may entirely not work for another. The fact that it's both a communal and very individual experience is part of what makes it so exciting as an art form.
ACL2006
Broadway Legend
joined:2/11/06
I disagree. I think this season is much better than last season. Beautiful, After Midnight, If/Then, Bullets Over Broadway, Aladdin & Gentlemen's Guide all have strong word-of mouth. Kinky Boots didn't pick up steam until after it won the Tony. Matlida & Pippin were the only shows with any type of hype before they opened.
A Chorus Line played its final Broadway performance on August 17, 2008. The tour played its final performance on August 21, 2011. A new non-equity tour started in October 2012 played its final performance on March 23, 2013.
WhizzerMarvin TrinaJasonMendel
Broadway Legend
joined:5/26/05
It certainly has been the most mediocre season in terms of new plays in a long time. The play revivals and new musicals have been fairly strong though, and I think the Memphis/Addams Family/Million Dollar Quartet/American Idiot/Come Fly Away season was worse overall than this one.

Marie: Don't be in such a hurry about that pretty little chippy in Frisco. Tony: Eh, she's a no chip!
haterobics
Broadway Legend
joined:3/29/14
And no one yet has mentioned:
- Twelfth Night (Rylance)
- Richard III (Rylance)
- Fun Home
- Here Lives Love
- Mr. Burns
- Good Person of Szechuan
- A Midsummer Night's Dream (TFANA)
- Mothers and Sons

All of which I enjoyed immensely this season...
formerly oasisjeff on here.
ljay889
Broadway Legend
joined:8/4/04
I think the Memphis/Addams Family/Million Dollar Quartet/American Idiot/Come Fly Away season was worse overall than this one.

That was such a dreadful season for new musicals.
#sadandtransparent
perfectlymarvelous
Broadway Legend
joined:5/21/07
Actually, haterobics, both Play Esq. and I mentioned the Rylance Shakespeare plays and Fun Home.

And I agree about the season Memphis won, that was pretty dismal (although I did enjoy American Idiot quite a bit and didn't hate Fela!).

Updated On: 5/17/14 at 12:13 AM
RachelJean
Swing
joined:12/12/12
I agree that this has been a very mediocre season, which is strange because going into it, I was truly excited about it. Looking back, really the only production I enjoyed as a whole was The Glass Menagerie (regretfully, I missed Fun Home)
Updated On: 5/17/14 at 12:17 AM
WhizzerMarvin TrinaJasonMendel
Broadway Legend
joined:5/26/05
Yeah I really liked Fela! too, and American Idiot was alright, but it was disappointing that there were so few original scores that year.

Of course a season is much more than just the (new) musicals.

This season there was much to enjoy:

The Glass Menagerie
Twelfth Night/Richard III
Waiting For Godot/(less so) No Man's Land
A Raisin in the Sun
Cripple of Inishmaan
Mothers and Sons
Bridges of Madison County
Gentleman's Guide
After Midnight
Lady Day
Cabaret
Violet

This season had a quartet of plays that I found insufferable though: Bronx Bombers, A Time to Kill, The Velocity of Autumn and The Snow Geese. Less awful, but still bad were Act One and Realistic Joneses (sorry Isherwood).

Macbeth and Romeo and Juliet were pretty brutal too.

Soul Doctor takes the cake for worst of the season in the musical category, but mostly it was filled with shows that were ok, but should have been so much better, like Big Fish, Bullets, Rocky, Aladdin.


Marie: Don't be in such a hurry about that pretty little chippy in Frisco. Tony: Eh, she's a no chip!
Updated On: 5/17/14 at 12:19 AM
haterobics
Broadway Legend
joined:3/29/14
"Actually, haterobics, both Play Esq. and I mentioned the Rylance Shakespeare plays and Fun Home."

Sorry. I thought the central premise of the thread was so off-base, I didn't read it all that carefully.
formerly oasisjeff on here.
bwayphreak234
Broadway Legend
joined:7/4/10
I have found this to be a great season from the 5 shows I got to see. I really disliked Les Miserables. I liked Rocky, and I loved Bridges, and I absolutely completely fell head over heels in love with Bullets and If/Then.
"There’s nothing quite like the power and the passion of Broadway music. "
haterobics
Broadway Legend
joined:3/29/14
"Less awful, but still bad were Act One and Realistic Joneses"

I saw Act One last night and was not really into it, but Shaloub's tonal and affect as the old Moss Hart sounded like he was channeling Rylance's Olivia. It made my time more enjoyable watching it, but it did seem very close to me?!
formerly oasisjeff on here.
Mr Roxy
Broadway Legend
joined:5/17/03
Totally disagree
Cynicism is an unpleasant way of saying the truth - Lillian Hellman.
mjohnson2
Broadway Star
joined:11/2/13
I think that while I really liked a lot of this season, the reason that we find it (myself included) so mediocre is that a lot of us were hyped for this to be the best season that New York had seen in 15 years. I mean we had:
A new Jason Robert Brown show (BOMC)
Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey's follow up to one of the greatest musicals ever written starring a musical theatre legend (If/Then)
Disney's first show after rebounding from their awful streak with Newsies (Aladdin)
A musical adaptation of one of the best movies about New York ever headlined by the man who wrote the movie himself and directed by one of the most talented director-choreographer combos ever (Bullets)
An adaptation of one of the most beloved movies of all time that has constantly been on peoples' movies into musicals lists (Big Fish)
The supposedly new Jersey Boys about another legend of pop music (Beautiful)
A big splashy musical directed by one of the most innovative directors working in the theatre today written by some extremely talented people with a great source material coming off of rave reviews from Germany (Rocky)
An adaptation of one of the cornerstones of musical theatre literature written and directed by arguably the best bookwrighter of a musical ever.

Though a lot of people liked some or all of these shows (including myself) I will say that not a single one of them lived up to the expectations that we set at the beginning of the season, which is why it feels so underwhelming. At least we still have some incredible revivals this year (and every year) and, of course, A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder and Fun Home, but neither of those were nearly as hyped as a lot of the shows opening on Broadway this season.
You taste the silver Sara, you taste the crown, you thirst for blood from the roses in hand, oh you spoil for sash and scepter doing a dance, as they crown you queen of High School Land.
Play Esq.
Broadway Star
joined:7/10/09
Happy to inspire a lively conversation, but with some exception, no one has really commented on the absence of brilliant Off-Broadway this season. (Hater, Here Lies Love and Burns were last season, unless I'm mistaken, and I apologize for subjecting you to a premise that is so off base).

If I were to find a central theme to those productions that were admittedly a success this season, I would say the unifying theme is captivating performances despite mediocre productions (if/then, Beautiful, Lady Day, and Violet immediately come to mind). There were, of course exceptions (The Glass Menagerie,Twelfth Night/Richard III,Waiting For Godot/No Man's Land, Cripple of Inishmaan), but I would otherwise categorize this season as one of brilliant performances, but wanting for all together exhilarating productions.

And well said, mjohnson2. I think that fact could very well have increased the disappointment I experienced this season.
Updated On: 5/17/14 at 01:10 AM
WhizzerMarvin TrinaJasonMendel
Broadway Legend
joined:5/26/05
Off-Broadway did have a weaker year than usual, but there were some bright spots.

I thought Mr. Burns was the first play of Playwright's season, but I could be wrong. Either way, it was a great play.

Hand To God was awesome, but I realize that was kind of a transfer from a previous season.

City of Conversation was strong. Fun Home was excellent. The Apple Family plays in rep were pretty damn brilliant.

The Old Friends at Signature was a highlight of the fall.
Marie: Don't be in such a hurry about that pretty little chippy in Frisco. Tony: Eh, she's a no chip!
haterobics
Broadway Legend
joined:3/29/14
Burns was this season.
formerly oasisjeff on here.
brdway411
Broadway Star
joined:2/24/14
Burns was this season. My friend Sam Hill did the masks. He also did the golden head piece for Hedwig.

Updated On: 5/17/14 at 01:24 AM
Play Esq.
Broadway Star
joined:7/10/09
Whizzer: you're right about Burns (simply brilliant) being within this season, but I placed HTG and the Apple Plays in their respective season. City was very very strong (and served as the catalyst for this thread), but I found it the exception to the rule.

Old Friends kinda goes back to my thoughts about the season overall: great performances within respectable productions.
chrisampm2
Leading Actor
joined:5/26/07
I think it was a spectacular season. Re Off-Bwy, we had Fun Home, Natasha Pierre, Hand to God, Small Engine Repair, Here Lies Love, Heir Apparent, The Old Friends, Year of the Rooster, Watson Intelligence, Good Person Of Szechwan, the beautifully designed Midsummer Nt's Dream at TFANA, Doll's house, Lear, and Enemy of the People at BAM, The Open House, Satchmo, plus Violet and Little Me at Encores, Titanic at Alice Tully, Guys andDolls at Carnegie Hall. Every week there was something worth seeing. And then yes, all those great Bwy shows in the fall.
chrisampm2
Leading Actor
joined:5/26/07
The Lortels placed Hand to God as this season, so that's good enough for me. Presumably, the EST runs were under Off Off contracts.
Play Esq.
Broadway Star
joined:7/10/09
"I think it was a spectacular season. Re Off-Bwy, we had Fun Home, Natasha Pierre, Hand to God, Small Engine Repair, Here Lies Love, Heir Apparent, The Old Friends, Year of the Rooster, Watson Intelligence, Good Person Of Szechwan, the beautifully designed Midsummer Nt's Dream at TFANA, Doll's house, Lear, and Enemy of the People at BAM, The Open House, Satchmo, plus Violet and Little Me at Encores, Titanic at Alice Tully, Guys andDolls at Carnegie Hall. Every week there was something worth seeing. And then yes, all those great Bwy shows in the fall."

I love that this thread is causing so much enthusiasm (especially for a season I've dismissed as forgetful).

Chris, many of your choices originated from seasons past. With few exceptions, I've seen everything on your list. My feelings related to the shows you cited from this season don't change my impressions overall (though thank you for reminding me about Szechwan...and how horribly sick I am of Lear).

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