Most Misguided Interpretation You've Seen?

Carrie-or-Change2 Profile Photo
As we all know, many directors, after having really "dug deep" into a text, come up with a new spin on a classic show. If they're talented, this can make for a strong, even revelatory production. On the other hand, if the director is not up to the task, their choices seem utterly absurd.

What's the strangest/most wrong-headed production of a show that you've seen?
 Musical Master Profile Photo
Musical Master
Broadway Legend
The 2001 revival of FOLLIES was so horrifyingly misguided that I wanted to breakdown with Ben Stone but I wasn't able to.

That revival of FLOWER DRUM SONG with David Henry Hawng's atrocious, GOD-AWFUL, wincing book was an injustice to Rodgers and Hammerstein's original work that I want to scream.

The original CARRIE, that is all.
Elfuhbuh Profile Photo
Broadway Star
The new Broadway production of Jekyll & Hyde. Absolutely nothing about that version worked.
Borstalboy Profile Photo
Broadway Legend
"It's now rather very common to hear people say 'I'm rather offended by that'. As if that gives them certain rights. It's actually nothing more than a whine. It has no meaning, no purpose. It has no reason to be respected as a phrase. 'I am offended by that'. Well, so f**king what?"--Stephen Fry
last revival of Company
Jordan Catalano Profile Photo
Jordan Catalano
Broadway Legend
"The new Broadway production of Jekyll & Hyde. Absolutely nothing about that version worked."

Sorry, I have to disagree with that SO SO SO much.

mjohnson2 Profile Photo
Broadway Star
The recent revival of PAL JOEY missed the mark entirely, as did the recent LCT revival of MACBETH.
Anything regarding shows stated by this account is an attempt to convey opinion and not fact.
nicnyc Profile Photo
The most recent Shakespeare in the Park production of Hamlet where Laertes was shot and died (complete with blood bag and all).
mikem Profile Photo
Broadway Legend
Are we allowed to include movie adaptations? The movie of August: Osage County took a black comedy and minimized the comedic aspects, reduced Mattie Fae (the Rondi Reed/Margo Martindale role) to an afterthought, and made Barbara (the Amy Morton/Julia Roberts role) into a bitter, nagging, unpleasant woman I cared nothing about.

August: Osage County is one of my favorite plays and I could not believe how wrong-headed the direction of the movie was.
"What was the name of that cheese that I like?" "you can't run away forever...but there's nothing wrong with getting a good head start" "well I hope and I pray, that maybe someday, you'll walk in the room with my heart"
trentsketch Profile Photo
Broadway Legend
The Taming of the Shrew, reset in a 1950s diner because reasons. The director, a friend, could never explain why she did what she did. She just said "it worked so well" when asked to explain her reasoning.
Patash Profile Photo
Broadway Legend
Does this have to be Broadway production?

If not, two come to mind.

The first was a production of West Side Story at Stratford, Ontario. Maria was played by an Asian, complete with Asian accent, even though they kept all the Puerto Rican references and all her friends and sister were Puerto Rican. But even worse was that Tony was a little peroxide blond looking light in the loafers guy who was so effeminate, the audience laughed when they said "we must get Tony to lead the rumble" or whatever the line was.

The other was a production of You're A Good Man Charlie Brown, in which all the actors were dressed as clowns and they used a circus set. Apparently the director had never heard of Charles Schultz OR Peanuts.

Updated On: 8/25/14 at 09:35 AM
FloydJoe2 Profile Photo
trentsketch, that reminds me of that production of SPRING AWAKENING that was set in a 50's diner. Another choice that I don't see how it helps.
Carrie-or-Change2 Profile Photo
This can absolutely be a film or a regional production!

In my own experience, I saw a community theatre production of Shrek: The Musical where Fiona was split in two. One (very, very skinny) girl played "beautiful" Fiona, and the other girl (who was a bit heavier) played "Ogre" fiona. So apparently beauty ACTUALLY IS skin deep.
Des McAnuff's GUYS AND DOLLS. Whoa!

CarlosAlberto Profile Photo
Broadway Legend
Rob Ashford's atrocious revival of PROMISES, PROMISES with his lame ass choreography and mis-guided casting of the two leads.

Broadway Star
Craig Revel Horwood's actor/musician production of Chess was the worst interpretation of a show that I've seen. If I remember correctly, Anatoly was playing the triangle during Mountain Duet. The whole show was a mess and Horwood's production was dull and uninspiring.
Actor/musician productions have proven to be a successful approach to some shows, but for others I don't believe they work.
ErinDillyFan Profile Photo
Broadway Star
A community theater production of "The Drowsy Chaperone"

Was not set in The Man in the Chair's apartment, but in Mrs Tottendale's home and no airplane, so the superintendent joke goes no where at the end. The guy playing Robert Martin was 65 and couldn't skate so Janet wheeled him around in a wheelchair. Janet was played by a 50 yr old woman. There was no bed, so Aldopho suduced the Chaperone in a desk chair in the foyer of Mrs. Totendale's house and too many others to remember...
Roscoe Profile Photo
Broadway Legend
Trevor Nunn's revival of A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC that was set in what looked like an abandoned mortuary, populated with bizarro zombies who learned human behavior by watching SHOWGIRLS.

It took Bernadette Peters and Elaine Stritch to remind them that the play is a romantic musical comedy of great wit and sophistication.

And Trevor Nunn's production of OKLAHOMA! in which Laurey was played as an ill-mannered little bitch who wanted to take a walk on the wild side with Judd, she was so appallingly unpleasant that I started to think that a night with Judd was about what she had coming.
"If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don't have to worry about the answers." Thomas Pynchon, GRAVITY'S RAINBOW "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." Philip K. Dick My blog:
Updated On: 8/25/14 at 11:33 AM
Sauja Profile Photo
Broadway Star
YES, NicNYC. That Shakespeare in the Park Hamlet was abysmal. Not only was Laertes's death ridiculously staged, but it opened with "To be or not to be" for some curious reason. And am I crazy, or did they manage to kill one more character than actually dies in the play? I have this vague memory of Fortibras shooting someone out of nowhere, but I might be mixing it up with the botched Laertes' death.

And was it all set on a ship? I've tried to block a lot of that from my mind, so it's not terribly clear in my memory.
I started a blog! Cause I'm a nerd.
Mister Matt Profile Photo
Mister Matt
Broadway Legend
Original Broadway production of Jekyll & Hyde. The original cast was the only reason to see it. Everything else about it was ruined.

Steppenwolf's Hedda Gabler starring Martha Plimpton in 2001.
"What can you expect from a bunch of seitan worshippers?" - Reginald Tresilian
Broadway Legend
Director Gale Edwards' modern-dress revival of Jesus Christ Superstar. Jesus, take the wheel!
brotherhoodofman Profile Photo
Chorus Member
Arena Stage (DC) production of My Fair Lady. Such weird casting -- the actor playing Henry Higgins looked nearly old enough to be Eliza's great-grandfather. The costumes and makeup made him look older and her look about 17. They were good individually, but paired together ... oof. So awkward. I remember the audience laughing at the end when she returns to Henry over Freddy. Casting just made it totally unbelievable.

A photo of Henry and Eliza:
AC126748 Profile Photo
Broadway Legend
So much of the aforementioned revival of A Little Night Music, but especially Ramona Mallory's shrewish Anne (no trace of the sweet young girl Fredrik is supposed to see, and desire) and Erin Davie's overly deadpan Charlotte. And whatever was going on with Hunter Ryan Herdlicka and his bizarre line readings. "It (pause) isn't (pause) gloomy. (Long pause) It's (pause) pro (long pause) FOUND (pause)."

And, sorry to say, Chita's Princess Puffer...a total trainwreck.
"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
HumATune Profile Photo
Broadway Star
I saw a Community Theater production of Dreamgirls where they had a “narrator” character that would appear onstage to announce the music groups during the Apollo scene and throughout the show. For some reason the actress who played the narrator decided to talk like she was J.J. from “Good Times” and walk around with a stooped posture. (During the curtain call she was standing up straight and walked off the stage that way, so it was not a medical condition.) Then after Lorell and Jimmy’s last scene together this guy come onstage and says “Jimmy needs to take it easy don’t he?” and proceeded to sing a song that wasn’t even it the show. It turns out he was a “local recording artist” and they were selling his CD during intermission and after the show!

Oh and they couldn’t be bothered to get the Deena to wear the proper undergarments. At one point when she turned around, she was wearing a dress with a low back and you could the entire backside of her bra.
Mister Matt Profile Photo
Mister Matt
Broadway Legend
I had happily forgotten about that awful tour of The Boy Friend directed by Julie Andrews until this thread. I shudder to think how much money was wasted on that production.
"What can you expect from a bunch of seitan worshippers?" - Reginald Tresilian
EricMontreal22 Profile Photo
Broadway Legend
I've only had the (mis)fortune to see one of his productions, but I think anything Calixto Bieito directs would fit this category (including his Boston production of Camino Real.)


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