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Thoughts on Jack O'Brien?

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Jeffrey Karasarides
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Thoughts on Jack O'Brien?#1
Posted: 6/19/17 at 11:03am

In 1969, Jack O'Brien made his Broadway directorial debut on Cock-A-Doodle Dandy. Eight years later, he earned his first Tony nomination for the 1976 revival of Porgy & Bess, then came a long period of time before he was nominated again (as director) for 1992's Two Shakespearean Actors. In 2001, he was a double nominee for Best Direction of a Play (The Invention of Love) and Best Direction of a Musical (The Full Monty). It wasn't until 2003 when he finally won a Tony for directing Hairspray. He would win again a year later for Lincoln Center's production of Henry IV and in 2007 for The Coast of Utopia.

Since The Coast of Utopia, his track record has been very inconsistent. He's had productions that received solid notices (The NanceIt's Only a PlayThe Front Page), mixed notices (Catch Me If You Can), and bad notices (ImpressionismDead AccountsMacbethCharlie & the Chocolate Factory). Now, he's going to do Carousel next year...

What are your thoughts on Jack O'Brien's track record as of late? It seems to me that his best work lately has pretty much been his collaborations with Nathan Lane.

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IdinaBellFoster
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Thoughts on Jack O'Brien?#2
Posted: 6/19/17 at 11:09am

I would move IT'S ONLY A PLAY into the mixed or bad notices group.

"Oh look at the time, three more intelligent plays just closed and THE ADDAMS FAMILY made another million dollars" -Jackie Hoffman, Broadway.com Audience Awards
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chernjam
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Thoughts on Jack O'Brien?#3
Posted: 6/19/17 at 11:13am

You can add Love Never Dies (London/World Premiere) as one that went bad... and although ALW didn't come right out and blame O'Brien, it was clear he thought his score wasn't served well by O'Brien

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imeldasturn
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Thoughts on Jack O'Brien?#4
Posted: 6/19/17 at 11:47am

ALW has a long history of blaming others for his flops.

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Lot666
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Thoughts on Jack O'Brien?#5
Posted: 6/19/17 at 12:24pm

chernjam said: "You can add Love Never Dies (London/World Premiere) as one that went bad... and although ALW didn't come right out and blame O'Brien, it was clear he thought his score wasn't served well by O'Brien"

There were aspects of the London production that I thought were much better than the Australian version, particularly the original Prologue/Overture segment.

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adamgreer
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Thoughts on Jack O'Brien?#6
Posted: 6/19/17 at 12:56pm

His direction for the Sound of Music was about as interesting as what you'd see at a community theater. 

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CATSNYrevival
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Thoughts on Jack O'Brien?#7
Posted: 6/19/17 at 1:01pm

I liked his Sound of Music tour but save for the new lyrics he wrote for "Something Good" it was fairly by the numbers. I wouldn't mind if Carousel is more of the same. It doesn't need a drastic reinvisioning. Just do it as is.

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Thoughts on Jack O'Brien?#8
Posted: 6/19/17 at 1:35pm

Read his book, it is terrific.

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IdinaBellFoster
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Thoughts on Jack O'Brien?#9
Posted: 6/19/17 at 1:45pm

adamgreer said: "His direction for the Sound of Music was about as interesting as what you'd see at a community theater. "

Agreed. What a dreadful production.

 

"Oh look at the time, three more intelligent plays just closed and THE ADDAMS FAMILY made another million dollars" -Jackie Hoffman, Broadway.com Audience Awards
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Thoughts on Jack O'Brien?#10
Posted: 6/19/17 at 1:48pm

there is a double edged lesson in this but Jack is a joy to work with.

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Thoughts on Jack O'Brien?#11
Posted: 6/19/17 at 3:15pm

Ask Bebe Neuwirrh what she thinks about him when they did Damn Yankees. I thought it's only a play was the funniest play I had ever seen. 2 hours of brilliance 

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Thoughts on Jack O'Brien?#12
Posted: 6/19/17 at 3:19pm

It's Only a Play was one of the most boring things I've ever seen on Broadway, but I blame the script for that more than anything. Maybe different direction could have given it some oomph, but it's a two hour play that should be a 15 minute sketch. Doesn't help when Matthew Broderick is the one tasked with giving the frequent, long, and painfully earnest monologues. 

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Thoughts on Jack O'Brien?#13
Posted: 6/19/17 at 4:38pm

I had the great pleasure of working with Jack a few years ago and he was a delight. Generous, funny and a great entertainer. He may have suffered a few below par shows recently, but he is one of the true treasures of Broadway. I hope this doesn't turn into a vicious thread tearing him down.

 

the man directed Hairspray. And for that I will always adore him.

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Thoughts on Jack O'Brien?#14
Posted: 6/19/17 at 7:28pm

brian1973 said: "I had the great pleasure of working with Jack a few years ago and he was a delight. Generous, funny and a great entertainer. He may have suffered a few below par shows recently, but he is one of the true treasures of Broadway. I hope this doesn't turn into a vicious thread tearing him down.

 

the man directed Hairspray. And for that I will always adore him.


 

I don't find him as one of the true treasures of Broadway...Hairspray was FAB as for all the other musicals...eh! Time to retire Jack.

 

"

 

"Anything you do, let it it come from you--then it will be new." Sunday in the Park with George
Updated On: 6/19/17 at 07:28 PM
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Thoughts on Jack O'Brien?#15
Posted: 6/19/17 at 7:33pm

He's a very mixed bag.  Some of his stuff is very good and the rest of it ranges from awful to meh.  I'm actually a bit concerned for Carousel.  I hope that it's not just a boring, standard production like his Sound of Music and I'm also worried that we'll get drastically reduced orchestrations, but that's a bit off topic.

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Robbie2
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Thoughts on Jack O'Brien?#16
Posted: 6/19/17 at 7:38pm

GeorgeandDot said: "He's a very mixed bag.  Some of his stuff is very good and the rest of it ranges from awful to meh.  I'm actually a bit concerned for Carousel.  I hope that it's not just a boring, standard production like his Sound of Music and I'm also worried that we'll get drastically reduced orchestrations, but that's a bit off topic.

 

"that's what we'll get standard and boring.

Nothing will match Hytner-MacMillan's brilliant, stunning and gorgeous '94 revival...nothing!

 

"Anything you do, let it it come from you--then it will be new." Sunday in the Park with George
Updated On: 6/19/17 at 07:38 PM