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If you could Supervise a Revisal...

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Carrie-or-Change2
Swing
joined:8/20/14
If you could Supervise a Revisal...
Posted: 8/31/14 at 03:07pm
The most frustrating thing for any theatre lover is watching a show fly off the rails and miss the mark. Perhaps it has a problematic book, or maybe there is a misplaced song, but either way, the show just isn't reaching its potential. Although the creative team could never pinpoint what was wrong, you feel that you could fix the problem with a few easy changes.

For example, although I know it will never be one of the great musicals, one of my favorite shows is Carrie. I'm still not exactly sure why. Even so, I think that the main problem in the show is that, currently, it reads as a drama where almost every major character just happens to die. Where is the horror? Isn't this a Stephen King adaptation? Anyway, I think that one could possibly fix the show by setting it inside Sue's fractured mind. Throughout the show, have flashes of the horrors that await to keep the audience on edge. Maybe throw in a jump scare or two. And finally, make the climactic Prom scene take place in middle of the audience, with the house nearly pitch black.

Another (again, not great) show that I wish I could revise is Footloose. The show has the most tonal shifts per capita I've ever seen in a show. There are so many HUGE dance numbers that are immediately followed by tense scenes of family drama. I think if, perhaps, the dancing in the show was toned back and given almost a more "modern dance" feel (in the vein of Step Up), and a couple of songs were moved (I.E. Holding Out for a Hero was moved to after Chuck beats up Ariel, the title song) or cut (Still Rocking), the show could actually be pretty emotionally satisfying.

Are there any shows you wish you could supervise a revisal for?
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mjohnson2
Broadway Star
joined:11/2/13
If you could Supervise a Revisal...
Posted: 8/31/14 at 03:13pm
DEAR WORLD. Almost a perfect musical, but the book could be revised a little to make it more timeless.
HOUSE OF FLOWERS. Such a wonderful score should not be wasted on such a flimsy book.
MACK & MABEL. The show is pretty good as is, and Herman's score is predictably delightful, but it could be worked with to become amazing.
ANYTHING GOES. I would preserve the original score and work from there, instead of injecting more and more Cole Porter songs.
Anything regarding shows stated by this account is an attempt to convey opinion and not fact.
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henrikegerman
Broadway Legend
joined:4/29/05
If you could Supervise a Revisal...
Posted: 8/31/14 at 03:52pm
Scarlet Pimpernel; there's so much good amid the bad.
Gothampc
Broadway Legend
joined:5/20/03
If you could Supervise a Revisal...
Posted: 8/31/14 at 05:46pm
I felt this way the two times I saw Nick & Nora. Such great source material, such perfect casting, such terrible book and music. I wish a new creative team would revisit Nick & Nora.

The first thing it needs is a top notch bookwriter who can write witty dialogue. The whole joy of the Nick & Nora movies is the sparkling repartee.

Next it needs top notch music writers. Not only witty lyrics but snappy music.

It is possible to have a wonderful Nick & Nora musical. It just needs the writers.
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.
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Auggie27
Broadway Legend
joined:10/13/03
If you could Supervise a Revisal...
Posted: 8/31/14 at 07:34pm
People here will shout me down, eviscerate my taste ... but RENT. The second act is still a shapeless mess. It's clear that Larson wasn't finished with it, and what's there -- particularly the final 30-40 minutes -- is a lot of summing up, overwrought explaining, and then a synthetic and romantic ending that (to my thinking) simply doesn't satisfy. The movie more or less proves this, though everyone blames Chris Columbus, who merely used what was available. The storytelling just stops. The first act's use of the unities -- keeping it in one place in one general time frame, Christmas, like Puccini -- makes it compelling and immediate. And then it launches into "And this happened to..." Granted, this shapelessness is camouflaged by some wonderful songs, and the score doesn't disappoint. But I've never really seen the resolution fully work, because it hammers points home that have already been hit repeatedly. It's a wonderful, still unfinished show. Yeah, all the way to the bank. I still see what might've been.
"I'm a comedian, but in my spare time, things bother me." Gary Shandling
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Jeffrey Karasarides
Broadway Star
joined:11/27/11
If you could Supervise a Revisal...
Posted: 8/31/14 at 07:49pm
Little Women
CATSNYrevival
Broadway Legend
joined:3/1/04
If you could Supervise a Revisal...
Posted: 8/31/14 at 07:53pm
I'm against resetting shows especially if it's inside a character's mind. Some of these ideas sound worse than the original but I guess you can't please everyone.
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GavestonPS
Broadway Legend
joined:6/10/12
If you could Supervise a Revisal...
Posted: 8/31/14 at 10:02pm
FWIW, about 15 years ago, Charles Busch and a longtime collaborator of his were writing a revisal of HOUSE OF FLOWERS. I don't know whatever happened to it, but it was tentatively scheduled to play the Pasadena Playhouse.

Whoever revises MACK AND MABEL needs to find a compelling way to keep the title characters on stage together at least some of the time in the second act. As written, the central couple splits at the end of Act I and only meets now and then by accident in Act II; the show itself unravels accordingly.

'Twill not be an easy fix.

Updated On: 8/31/14 at 10:02 PM
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Charley Kringas Inc
Stand-by
joined:8/12/11
If you could Supervise a Revisal...
Posted: 9/1/14 at 03:54am
The usual for Merrily We Roll Along:

1) Bring back the graduation scenes, along with Old Frank, and rewrite the opening monologue so it's a little more harrowing, a real anxiety-inducing breakdown to give the students proper impetus to ask: how? How did a guy with all this wind up like THAT? And, again, the ending graduation scene has a big, obvious moment for closure that, for some reason, has never been properly exploited.

2) That Frank is not a very good song.

3) Gussie needs to not be the catalyst behind every one of Frank's bad decisions, because it takes all the fun, purpose, and scary ambiguity out of the show. The point should not be "watch out for scary dragon ladies", it should be "watch where your road's going", because otherwise it's the world's most simplistic and blatant morality play. The idea should be that what happens to Frank could happen to anyone. I don't know if it's unfortunate, but that means her two new numbers should probably go.

4) Bring back Honey, it's one of the sweetest, most sincere songs Sondheim has ever written, it's a lovely melody, and it makes the rest of the show's events even more heartbreaking in retrospect. I realize that it's extremely close in proximity to the musically and thematically similar "Not A Day Goes By" (for good reason, the two parts of Honey originally bookended "Not A Day"), maybe the latter should go wholly to Mary.

5) A good going-over of the book, giving it a sharper edge and - I don't know how else to put it - better dialogue, digging a little deeper into these characters. Honestly, most of what they say is crap you could find on soap operas.
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luke-h***
Broadway Legend
joined:4/4/06
If you could Supervise a Revisal...
Posted: 9/1/14 at 04:52am
If/Then needs serious work. The book just isn't good enough, and some of those lyrics are just plain awful. I don't think it knew what it wanted to be and was very contrived. Beautiful score, a handful of moments during which it was a brilliant show, but several totally misguided and often cringy moments. For me anyway. I don't know how they could fix it, but they worked a lot on Next to Normal for many years before it got to Broadway, and Next to Normal remains one of the best musicals I have ever seen.
THEATRE 2014: Strangers on a Train ***1/2; From Here to Eternity **; Stephen Ward *****; The Wolves of Willoughby Chase (Progress Theatre, Reading) **; American Psycho ****; Putting it Together *****; West Side Story (UK Tour, Bristol) ***1/2; Bold Girls (Progress Theatre, Reading) ***; Blithe Spirit ****; The Magic Flute (RWCMD) ***; Stephen Ward *****; Secret Cinema: The Grand Budapest Hotel *****; Fiddler on the Roof (UK Tour Wimbledon) ****; The Lion King ****; Arcadia (Bristol Tobacco Factory) ****; The Weir *****; Good People ***; Other Desert Cities *****; Dirty Rotten Scoundrels ***; Urinetown *****; The Testament of Mary ***; Other Desert Cities *****; Miss Saigon ****; King Charles III *; Not About Heroes (Progress Theatre, Reading) **; In the Heights *****; London Road (Bristol Old Vic) ****; God of Carnage (Progress Theatre, Reading) **; The Hills of Tomorrow (Cardiff RepCo) ****; Mr. Burns ****; Love Labour's Lost...and Won (Reading Open Air Theatre) *****; Pacific Overtures (Union Theatre) ***1/2; Pippin *****; Hedwig and the Angry Inch *****; A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder ****; Cabaret *****; If/Then ***; Secret Cinema Presents: Dead Poets Society, A Tribute to Robin Williams *****; The Book of Mormon ***; The Crucible (Old Vic) ****1/2; The Pajama Game ****; Kate Bush: Before the Dawn *****; Anna Nicole ****; NT Live: A Streetcar Named Desire: ***; NT Live: Medea ****; Gypsy (Chichester) **** COMING UP: Great Britain, Speed the Plow, Assassins, Here Lies Love, Made in Dagenham, Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, City of Angels.
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g.d.e.l.g.i.
Broadway Legend
joined:6/13/12
If you could Supervise a Revisal...
Posted: 9/1/14 at 08:18am
Auggie27: I agree wholeheartedly. I'll willingly make myself even more unpopular by noting that if Jon's piece wasn't patched together from bits of Puccini, Murger, Sarah Schulman, Lynn Thomson, and other - let's say - "borrowed" elements (I seem to recall, though he himself no longer does, that Steve Wishnoff was going around for a while with an updated La Boheme outline that sounded suspiciously like most of Rent long before Larson had given up on Superbia), it might have been easier to construct a souffle out of the ingredients that remained in the bowl. Yeah, I said it.

In the spirit of henrikegerman, I'm going to tackle another oft-revised Wildhorn show: Jekyll & Hyde. Let's not try to pretend this is a masterpiece that needs just one more production to make it work. Screw that. It's clearly not. It's exactly what it is to MTI: a low-ball equivalent to Phantom and Les Mis that will do them a lot of brisk business until the rights to those become more freely available -- graphic killings, a lot of blood, sexuality, a moral at the last minute, all the elements of an 1880s penny dreadful dressed up for the stage. A lovely little potboiler that critics will hate (justifiably), but audiences will eat up with the right spices. Like any play of that ilk, it's not going to be Shakespeare in any of its versions. So you serve the dish that tastes the least like ass. My recipe would be a careful mix of the so-called FCLO script and the 2006 Resurrection recording, which I think is frankly the direction the recent 2012 tour/revival should have gone in. Is it perfect? No. But I already have the blended script on hand, it works the most of any J&H script I've ever read, and I don't hate it. That's kind of a big deal.

Not strictly a revisal, but I'd also like to take a crack at Jesus Christ Superstar, not to do anything earth-shattering, but more to find a placement for "Then We Are Decided," which was added to the 1973 film and does much to explain the motivations of Caiaphas and Annas and make them seem less like Christ-killer stereotypes. The problem is, its position in the film does not work on stage. On film, it's easy to cut away from "Strange Thing, Mystifying" ("they only need a small excuse / to put us all away") and increase the tension by showing the authorities are already thinking of dealing with the problem (e.g., Judas' foreboding is not unfounded). On stage, interrupting the scene that incorporates "What's The Buzz," "Strange Thing, Mystifying," and "Everything's Alright" with "Then We Are Decided" ruins the arc of the scene -- an uninterrupted rising dramatic line of tension. Putting it after "Everything's Alright" and before "This Jesus Must Die," as some productions have, seems like a logical choice, but put so close together, it only belabors the point of why the priests must deal harshly with Jesus -- you hear two songs discussing much the same points too close together, with Caiaphas trying to convince Annas to back up his position (read the lyrics; even though the '73 film stages it the opposite way, it's a valid reading), and then both of them trying to convince the council. An audience may or may not be as intelligent as we challenge them to be, but no audience likes feeling like the creative team believes they're stupid.

My solution, based on something I saw in a Pittsburgh production several years ago, would be to use "Then We Are Decided" as a prologue before the Overture. And you cut the instrumental coda after Annas' "Then we are decided," and go right into the Overture, likely accompanied by a bit of staging for dramatic effect to signal the transition into the show proper. Done right, I think it would be an interesting touch.
Formerly gvendo2005
Broadway Legend
joined: 5/1/05

Blocked: After Eight, suestorm, FindingNamo, david_fick, emlodik, lovebwy
Updated On: 9/1/14 at 08:18 AM
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trentsketch
Broadway Legend
joined:6/25/09
If you could Supervise a Revisal...
Posted: 9/1/14 at 08:47am
I have to agree with the Little Women choice. I music directed a production a couple years ago and the bones are very good. It needs some tweaks and a commitment to one conceit. Is it Jo, now a grown writer, telling her story through her prose or is it Jo, a young woman, growing up and becoming a writer? Both stories can be told, but the balance doesn't sit quite right between the two angles. The writer aspect peaks at the beginning of Act II and doesn't return until The Fire Within Me. That's minutes from the end of the show.

Aside from that, cutting Marnie's Act I number would do wonders for the pace of the show. Our Marnie was out sick about two weeks before our production went up and we just skipped Here Alone until she was back. The show flowed so much better. You don't need Here Alone and Days of Plenty to tell the story and Days of Plenty is a much more dynamic song.
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chewy5000
Broadway Legend
joined:12/1/09
If you could Supervise a Revisal...
Posted: 9/1/14 at 09:30am
I was just trying to imagine whether Song & Dance could work better if the two 'stories' were played simultaneously, so we could see the two characters searching for each other at the same time. It should serve to improve the otherwise complete lack of dramatic tension.
IMHO I see Queenie as being more of a brunette...
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g.d.e.l.g.i.
Broadway Legend
joined:6/13/12
If you could Supervise a Revisal...
Posted: 9/1/14 at 09:55am
Song & Dance is another one I've wanted to work on. You take all the myriad versions of Tell Me on a Sunday, merge them into a whole, split it into two acts, and make the protagonist a young gay male instead of a young single woman. Bam! You've got an up-to-the-minute, current show.
Formerly gvendo2005
Broadway Legend
joined: 5/1/05

Blocked: After Eight, suestorm, FindingNamo, david_fick, emlodik, lovebwy
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JRybka
Broadway Legend
joined:11/6/06
If you could Supervise a Revisal...
Posted: 9/1/14 at 01:14pm
Chess. No one has said CHESS. I still find the best version of it was either the Music Circus (Sacramento) version they did in the early 90s. And the complete Dutch Score (sung in English)) was the best versions. I really think you should make it more epic and sweeping IMHO.
"Whenever I get gloomy with the state of the world, I think about the arrivals gate at Heathrow Airport. General opinion's starting to make out that we live in a world of hatred and greed, but I don't see that. It seems to me that love is everywhere. Often it's not particularly dignified or newsworthy, but it's always there - fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, old friends. When the planes hit the Twin Towers, as far as I know none of the phone calls from the people on board were messages of hate or revenge - they were all messages of love. If you look for it, I've got a sneaky feeling you'll find that love actually is all around."
 Musical Master Profile Photo
Musical Master
Broadway Star
joined:4/28/13
If you could Supervise a Revisal...
Posted: 9/1/14 at 02:50pm
If I was given the supervising role for a revision of ME & JULIET, I would most certainly revise the story, tone and characters around so it would feel like Hammerstein actually wrote it instead of the light-hearted shallowness it always had.

I agree with the MERRILY changes Kringas, and also an ending where Frank DOES hang a plaque on the school roof, and to feel that he could teach a new generation to do what he could not due to the many wrong turns he took.

Updated On: 9/1/14 at 02:50 PM
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Mr. Musical
Chorus Member
joined:9/1/14
If you could Supervise a Revisal...
Posted: 9/1/14 at 04:23pm
I would love to revise Anyone Can Whistle. It's one of Sondheim's most under-appreciated scores in my opinion, and could do really well with a bit more of a grounded, sensical book.
 Musical Master Profile Photo
Musical Master
Broadway Star
joined:4/28/13
If you could Supervise a Revisal...
Posted: 9/1/14 at 04:27pm
^Yeah I was never a fan of Laurent's original book either. BTW welcome to the boards, Mr. Musical.
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mjohnson2
Broadway Star
joined:11/2/13
If you could Supervise a Revisal...
Posted: 9/1/14 at 04:31pm
I agree with ANYONE CAN WHISTLE but in the complete opposite direction. It really is quite an ugly score and the show would do well if the music were just cut and turned into a play.
Anything regarding shows stated by this account is an attempt to convey opinion and not fact.
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Mr. Musical
Chorus Member
joined:9/1/14
If you could Supervise a Revisal...
Posted: 9/1/14 at 04:37pm
Thanks, Musical Master. Been a lurker for years. Decided to finally create an account.

And mjohnson2, I don't know if I think the absurdity would work as a play? Might it be too out there?
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mjohnson2
Broadway Star
joined:11/2/13
If you could Supervise a Revisal...
Posted: 9/1/14 at 05:05pm
Have you ever seen Vieux Carré? Just look up absurdist theatre and you can see that there is nothing that is too weird to be a play. However, ANYONE CAN WHISTLE is not only too weird to be a musical, but a story that does not have any kind of reason to be a musical, but I do think a play could be nice.
Anything regarding shows stated by this account is an attempt to convey opinion and not fact.
Deena Jones
Broadway Legend
joined:5/27/03
If you could Supervise a Revisal...
Posted: 9/1/14 at 07:54pm
Jeckyll and Hyde... I really think with a strong director, better script and blood, this could work.... I saw the tour prior to Bweay and it was terrific. I also saw a production in Vienna (there is a cast recording) while it was in german , the staging was stunning. The bway version both sucked!
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GavestonPS
Broadway Legend
joined:6/10/12
If you could Supervise a Revisal...
Posted: 9/1/14 at 09:30pm
I can't imagine anything duller than Cora, Faye and Hapgood without their songs.

Yes, the musical score is rather sophisticated compared to the hit musicals of the same period, but that doesn't make it "ugly". Listen to it a few more times; it can be an acquired taste. And it does have some lovely, more traditional songs in the title number, "Everybody Says Don't', "See What It Gets You" and "With So Little to be Sure Of".

The problem is we are meant to connect with these characters empathetically (in a manner we usually don't with true Absurdist Theater), but the musical as written doesn't tell us this until Act II.

The first act is simply too clever for its own good.

 Musical Master Profile Photo
Musical Master
Broadway Star
joined:4/28/13
If you could Supervise a Revisal...
Posted: 9/1/14 at 09:41pm
^Which is why the book needs a re-write. ANYONE CAN WHISTLE could work if a top book writer knows how the peice could work, as opposed to Laurents who thought the absurd aspect could ever work.
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darquegk
Broadway Legend
joined:2/5/09
If you could Supervise a Revisal...
Posted: 9/1/14 at 09:47pm
Anyone Can Whistle always felt to me like a seven-month premature baby. SO close to being fully formed and functional, but weak and struggling because it was before its time.

Everything "Anyone Can Whistle" does, the mix of absurdism and straight-faced sentiment, the arch campiness of its various subplots, the stylized villains and Cora's male chorus of butlers, seems to presage what would become a dominant musical theatre style forty years later, with shows like "The Drowsy Chaperone" and "Urinetown" being both completely satirical and completely serious, cartoonish, camp and real all at once. None of those shows had anyone as brilliant as Sondheim attached to them. What they had in their favor, however, was time. They didn't have to invent a whole new style and tone of play, they merely had to perfect it.
 Musical Master Profile Photo
Musical Master
Broadway Star
joined:4/28/13
If you could Supervise a Revisal...
Posted: 9/1/14 at 10:11pm
^I agree those other musicals juggle the tones very well. ANYONE CAN WHISTLE feels like a chocolate pie that was 75% baked, it has something delicious inside but it still tastes undercooked.

Where is James Lapine when you need him? LOL

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