Why was Smoky Joe's such a hit and After Midnight a Commercial failure?

I have to admit the seeing Smoky Joe's was total agony for me...I absolutely hated it; that said, After Midnight was so much more ambitious, and the audience reaction, I.e., enthusiastic applause vs. silly standing ovations, was so much more enthusiastic.

I have heard that the Tony's did it, but After Midnight had a great number as well. So, what am I missing?
blaxx Profile Photo
Broadway Legend
I don't even see why the comparison. Even if they are both revues, the material and presentation are completely different. Timing and competition have a lot to do with too.
Listen, I don't take my clothes off for anyone, even if it is "artistic". - JANICE
Broadway Star
Blaxx is right. Other than both being revues that feature a lot of African-American performers, there's no real comparison. In the terms of material, a better parallel might be between 'Smokey Joe's Cafe' and 'Motown' (which both deal in music of the '60s). Ditto, for 'After Midnight' and 'Sophisticated Ladies' (which both celebrate the music of Duke Ellington). And yes, 'timing and competition.' 'Smokey Joe's' opened in a very weak season and got a chance to establish itself with little competition. In fact, 'Smokey Joe's' and 'Sunset Blvd.' were the only 2 shows up for 1995 Best Musical.
PalJoey Profile Photo
Broadway Legend
More people are drawn to Motown than to Duke Ellington.
yr pal,

Blocked so far: suestorm, Master Bates
Kad Profile Photo
Broadway Legend
Broadway Legend
It's a shame that After Midnight opened after Motown, targeting the same audience and running at the same time. Both are worthy shows but Motown is a brand and After Midnight is a title. I thought the rotating celebrity bit might keep AM running a little longer but, alas. As a sidenote, I recently saw a very good community theater production of Smokey Joe's and was stricken all over again at how well that show is constructed, keeping you constantly engaged. SJ also had the advantage of being ahead of the jukebox curve. It was novel.
HorseTears Profile Photo
Broadway Legend
There's obviously not one, pat answer to a question this big. But, as others have said, I have to imagine the time period being featured is a big factor. If you look at the average age of those likely to buy theatre tickets, they're going to have much more of an emotional connection to the Motown music of the 60s and 70s than they are to music of the Cotton Club era. The cotton club era sound is that of their parents. Motown is their sound.
Broadway Legend
Because Smoky Joe's had a woman that did the shimmy and every night the audience would attend just to see if one of her breasts was going to fly out of that dress.
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.
Broadway Star
After Midnight reminds me more of Black and Blue.
TappingMan Profile Photo
I love both shows. Unfortunately I felt that After Midnight was so terrific as Cotton Club Parade at City Center.
They made bad changes.

Also the star power only singing three songs isn't very satisfying.
I also think a cast recording would have helped
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adamgreer Profile Photo
Broadway Legend
Smokey Joe's also opened in a season where, if I remember correctly, there was only one other new musical- Sunset Boulevard. There was also only 2 revivals- the Broderick H2$ and Stroman's Showboat.

I'm sure opening in a season with so few other shows helped, too.

"All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them"
~Walt Disney

"It's kind of fun to do the impossible."
~Walt Disney

My name is neither "adam" nor "greer."
Broadway Legend
Smokey Joe had 7 actors and a unit set.

After Midnight had, what, 20 people on stage and how big of a running crew to move the bandstand and make all those quick changes?

That is a big reason right there.
"If my life weren't funny, it would just be true. And that would be unacceptable." --Carrie Fisher
Broadway Legend
Goth, why so puerile? DeLee couldn't have gotten her breast out of that costume unless she'd unzipped it and taken it off. Sheesh.
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Mister Matt
Broadway Legend
There was also only 2 revivals- the Broderick H2$ and Stroman's Showboat.

You forgot the disastrous Gentleman Prefer Blondes.
"What can you expect from a bunch of seitan worshippers?" - Reginald Tresilian
Broadway Legend
"Goth, why so puerile?"

Perhaps you miss the point of the shimmy?
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.
Broadway Legend
^ Cute, uptempo dance number? Just guessing.

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