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Is Seesaw too outdated to be revived?

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Is Seesaw too outdated to be revived?#1
Posted: 5/6/10 at 8:27pm
I loved the show Seesaw when I saw it in 1973, and I've often wondered why is has never been revived. The show was young and hip back then, and, if I remember correctly, full of controversy. I think they brought in the mayor of New York to help sell tickets. Did the IRS finally do it in? I'm not sure if it won any awards, but there were some great perfomances, especially by Michele Lee and Tommy Tune.
Updated On: 5/6/10 at 08:27 PM
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Is Seesaw too outdated to be revived?#2
Posted: 5/6/10 at 8:38pm
It's been on my Encores wishlist for some time.
"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
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Is Seesaw too outdated to be revived?#2
Posted: 5/6/10 at 8:58pm
GET OUT! I swear I was planning to start this thread, I just downloaded the album a couple of days ago. I bought it on vinyl in the early '80's and just about wore the record out, and then forgot about it. So when I stumbled across it on Amazon I was thrilled, it had been at least 25 years since I had listened to the score.


I still love the score, mostly, but it's just so odd. And yes, some numbers are very dated, and Spanglish is borderline offensive now.

I can't imagine this working anywhere other than Encores, and even then I'm not certain it would go over. As I understand it, the creators got around the problem of musicalizing a two character play by making the city of NYC a third "character" in the show. Well, fourth, I'll get to the third. I just don't know how you pull off a show that puts NYC front and center with no scenery. And a dated NYC at that.

As for that third character, the sidekick and aspiring choreographer played by Tommy Tune who was shoehorned into the plot - it only worked because it was Tommy Tune.
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Is Seesaw too outdated to be revived?#3
Posted: 5/6/10 at 9:58pm
If Promises can be revived so can this.
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Is Seesaw too outdated to be revived?#4
Posted: 5/6/10 at 10:11pm
The first Broadway show I ever saw!!! Would love to see it again.
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Is Seesaw too outdated to be revived?#5
Posted: 5/6/10 at 10:19pm
I loved it when I saw it in high school, but, sadly, I think it is.
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Is Seesaw too outdated to be revived?#6
Posted: 5/7/10 at 12:32am
hmmm... remember it well, but listening to the ocr now, wondering if might be either a littel too or little too much PC for a post-Sesame Street New York.

BTW, how do you think the song "SPANGLISH" would go over now? Maybe Arthur Laurents could direct and make that song decide; be one or the other..
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Is Seesaw too outdated to be revived?#7
Posted: 5/7/10 at 12:41am
I saw the show on Broadway and worked on the show when it toured througgh Canada and it was very uneven. SOme great stuff, some rubbish. The OCR hides a great many flaws. Try to find Michelle Lee's Tony Award performance, it is riveting.
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Is Seesaw too outdated to be revived?#8
Posted: 5/7/10 at 1:08am
I absolutley love the score, and most productions end up cutting Spanglish and Ride out the Storm (although I like that one).

I think it's only dated in some respects, and would be fine for Encores!
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Is Seesaw too outdated to be revived?#9
Posted: 5/7/10 at 1:39am
The show is dated but as Mr. Roxy said if they can do PROMISES PROMISES why not SEESAW. I saw it on tour with a truly winning Luci Arnaz in the Michelle Lee role. Tommy Tune, looking taller than ever, was still in it.

There are some enjoyable Cy Coleman numbers in the score. I believe SPANGLISH was dropped on tour which was no loss. The backstage goings on was just as good as the show itself. I recall reading what a bomb it was out of town. Flown in to save it was Michael Bennett who did a total paint by numbers revamp of the show. Michelle Lee rehearsed during the day while her once NYC room mate from years earlier, Lainie Kazan, played the lead in the evening performances. Within days Kazan was fired with Lee replacing her.
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Is Seesaw too outdated to be revived?#10
Posted: 5/7/10 at 9:43am
I always remember the brief description that used to appear in The New Yorker - "Another sweetly charitable view of New York".
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Is Seesaw too outdated to be revived?#11
Posted: 5/7/10 at 10:22am
I think there's an inherent problem in reviving shows like Seesaw that glorify the contemporary period in which they are set.

In any present period, we view past eras simplistically: the Twenties were bobbed hair, drop-waist skirts, and funny slang; the 60s were paisley prints, go-go boots, white lipstick; the 80s were big hair and neon clothes. But to people living at that time, it was the pinnacle of history, the most advanced moment of being, it was NOW.

When we try to revive a show like Promises, Promises, we always ignore this fact, and focus on the quaintness and the "style" to which we reduce each past decade. Or, even worse, we try to ignore the time in which a piece was created (like Company) and either update it or try to make it "timeless," which is rarely as satisfying as just doing it the way it was created to be done. The current production of Hair, on the other hand, does seem to work for audiences because it really has nothing whatever to do with the 60's except for the clichéd clothing.

Seesaw, unfortunately, is an uber-70's kind of show, with a book and score that, although entertaining, just aren't good enough to be updated. And, were it to somehow be done by someone who truly understands the mindset of the 70s, audiences probably wouldn't take to it. Our quaint image of the 70's is disco, bell-bottoms, feathered hair, and mirror balls, not real people.
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Is Seesaw too outdated to be revived?#12
Posted: 5/7/10 at 11:29am
well said- new in town.

Encores, if anything, though even that i have very little desire for....
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Is Seesaw too outdated to be revived?#13
Posted: 5/7/10 at 11:43am
The opening "My City" number showed the sleazier side of the city with prostitutes, etc. I remember once, as a PR ploy, the producers had Mayor John Lindsay walk on instead of leading man Ken Howard. The former looked bemused as the woman tried to get him interested in doing business. I saw the show as a student and liked it to a degree. "Welcome to Holiday Inn," although a minor number in the show, remains in my head to this day because it's so jaunty and fun. And I've always liked what Michele Lee did with "Poor Everybody Else."

I'd love to see Encores! tackle this one.
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Is Seesaw too outdated to be revived?#14
Posted: 5/7/10 at 11:48am
I'd been hoping Encores would pick this show up for ages now. I LOVE the music in this show. One great song after another. And I'm with everyone else who's said that if they can do Promises, Promises, why not Seesaw.
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Is Seesaw too outdated to be revived?#15
Posted: 5/7/10 at 4:11pm
Everyone keeps mentioning -- if they can revive PROMISES, PROMISES... they can revive SEESAW.

Well... they moved the year in PROMISES, PROMISES from its original groovy 1968 to a more MAD MEN-ish 1962.

They can keep SEESAW in its original gritty 1973 setting as both THE LIFE and A CHORUS LINE.

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Is Seesaw too outdated to be revived?#16
Posted: 5/7/10 at 7:36pm
Great post, newintown.
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