Why did MEMPHIS not run longer?

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Why did MEMPHIS not run longer? #1
Posted: 1/14/19 at 2:30pm

As someone who wasn't around these boards or the broadway grossing community at all when this ran, were there any specific reasons this show didn't sell well or play longer? I am such a major fan of this show and its music, and think it would play really well today. Did this show simply not sell well? Poor marketing? I guess I am someone who just doesn't understand as this show brought me so much joy, I am glad its out on DVD for everyone to enjoy but it is nowhere near the same as experiencing this show in person. 

Updated On: 1/14/19 at 02:30 PM
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Why did MEMPHIS not run longer? #2
Posted: 1/14/19 at 2:33pm

It ran for nearly three years, so wasn't a short run (especially for a donut show)... but it never really performed amazingly at the box office:

https://www.broadwayworld.com/grossesshow.cfm?show=MEMPHIS&year=2012&allall=on

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Why did MEMPHIS not run longer? #3
Posted: 1/14/19 at 2:39pm

It had a totally respectable run of nearly 3 years, playing longer than a lot of other Best Musicals (incl. Fun Home, Spring Awakening, Millie, Titanic, Gent's Guide, City of Angels). It was never a huge hit like Dear Evan Hansen, but it recouped the week that it closed. It was extremely lucky to have won Best Musical in the weakest year for new work since 1995.

It also opened in 2009, when the economy was not kind to other new musicals. It could be argued that Spring Awakening, In The Heights, Billy Elliot, and Memphis might have run a little longer in a more economically-sound time.

Updated On: 1/14/19 at 02:39 PM
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Why did MEMPHIS not run longer? #4
Posted: 1/14/19 at 2:40pm

haterobics said: "It ran for nearly three years, so wasn't a short run (especially for a donut show)... but it never really performed amazingly at the box office:

https://www.broadwayworld.com/grossesshow.cfm?show=MEMPHIS&year=2012&allall=on
"

Oh I by no means meant to say 3 years is a poor run, just surprised as most best musicals last a little longer, and I also am a big fan of the show so I wonder why it never took off. 

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Why did MEMPHIS not run longer? #5
Posted: 1/14/19 at 2:50pm

Because it was as mediocre as they come.

American Idiot should have won.

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Why did MEMPHIS not run longer? #6
Posted: 1/14/19 at 2:56pm
Mediocre is a very kind word to describe it.
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Why did MEMPHIS not run longer? #7
Posted: 1/14/19 at 3:06pm
One of my favorite musicals
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Why did MEMPHIS not run longer? #8
Posted: 1/14/19 at 3:13pm

It ran out of steam.

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Why did MEMPHIS not run longer? #9
Posted: 1/14/19 at 3:25pm

I am also someone who didn't like it and would have much preferred seeing American Idiot which, while flawed in terms of its book, had one of the best scores (wrongfully not eligible) in the last 40+ years. I don't think anyone expected it to run as long as it did after it won, which was also a surprise.

Updated On: 1/14/19 at 03:25 PM
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Why did MEMPHIS not run longer? #10
Posted: 1/14/19 at 3:35pm

Incredible show with brilliant leads.  It ran for three full years, almost all of the original cast was STILL in it, and recouped.  It's pretty great to be able to watch it on BroadwayHD, Amazon, and the DVD.  I think it's awesome that two of the principals are currently in Hamilton :)

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Why did MEMPHIS not run longer? #11
Posted: 1/14/19 at 3:48pm

Jordan Catalano said: "Mediocre is a very kind word to describe it."

I was being very, very kind.

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Why did MEMPHIS not run longer? #12
Posted: 1/14/19 at 4:08pm

LuPita2 said: "Incredible show with brilliant leads. It ran for three full years, almost all of the original cast was STILL in it, and recouped. It's pretty great to be able to watch it on BroadwayHD, Amazon, and the DVD. I think it's awesome that two of the principals are currently in Hamilton :)"

Then whos in it besides Mr Iglehart

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Why did MEMPHIS not run longer? #13
Posted: 1/14/19 at 4:15pm

This show has always been fascinating to me because the buzz (or lack thereof) on this board was completely at odds with how others seemed to be experiencing the show. If anyone could have predicted what happened to this show in the initial preview thread here they would have been ridiculed. The board was particularly scathing - I doubt anyone here could have possibly predicted it would have won Best Musical, run for 3 years - been filmed etc. 

"Itís the fractured quality in [Bernadette Peters'] singing voice and line readings that puts across the character as someone for whom resentment is sliding into madness." - NYtimes on Follies (2011).
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Why did MEMPHIS not run longer? #14
Posted: 1/14/19 at 4:28pm

BwayLB said: "LuPita2 said: "Incredible show with brilliant leads. It ran for three full years, almost all of the original cast was STILL in it, and recouped. It's pretty great to be able to watch it on BroadwayHD, Amazon, and the DVD. I think it's awesome that two of the principals are currently in Hamilton :)"

Then whos in it besides Mr Iglehart
"

Montego Glover is Angelica in Chicago! 

 

 

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Why did MEMPHIS not run longer? #15
Posted: 1/14/19 at 4:42pm
Oh ^
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Why did MEMPHIS not run longer? #16
Posted: 1/14/19 at 5:13pm

Because it was HORRENDOUS. The white savior plot would've been protested today, I'm surprised it wasn't back then. This is the ONLY Broadway show I've ever fallen asleep at which is quite an achievement - I even made it through the Leveaux/Lange Menagerie!

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Why did MEMPHIS not run longer? #17
Posted: 1/14/19 at 5:16pm

HogansHero said: "I am also someone who didn't like it and would have much preferred seeing American Idiot which, while flawed in terms of its book, had one of the best scores (wrongfully not eligible) in the last 40+years. I don't think anyone expected it to run as long as it did after it won, which was also a surprise."

Why was it wrongfully not eligible? The music existed prior to the show's conception. Sure, new arrangements were done, but to be eligible for Best Score, a majority of the score must be newly written for the show. The eligibility rules were followed. I don't see how it's "wrongful".

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Why did MEMPHIS not run longer? #18
Posted: 1/14/19 at 5:20pm
Its lucky it ran as long as it did. It was bolstered by its Tony wins and a particularly dismal theatrical landscape at the time.
"...everyone finally shut up, and the audience could enjoy the beginning of the Anatevka Pogram in peace."
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Why did MEMPHIS not run longer? #19
Posted: 1/14/19 at 5:33pm

@Ginger Bread The argument is that it was written as a concept album and the show that opened was a progression from that. You don't have to buy into the argument if you don't want to. 

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Why did MEMPHIS not run longer? #20
Posted: 1/14/19 at 5:45pm

2 of the 4 nominees for Best Original Score that year were the incidental music for plays, too. They really had to scrape to fill that category out. Memphis was the only Best Musical nominee in the category. 

"...everyone finally shut up, and the audience could enjoy the beginning of the Anatevka Pogram in peace."
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Why did MEMPHIS not run longer? #21
Posted: 1/14/19 at 6:10pm

Mike Barrett said: "BwayLB said: "LuPita2 said: "Incredible show with brilliant leads. It ran for three full years, almost all of the original cast was STILL in it, and recouped. It's pretty great to be able to watch it on BroadwayHD, Amazon, and the DVD. I think it's awesome that two of the principals are currently in Hamilton :)"

Then whos in it besides Mr Iglehart
"

Montego Glover is Angelica in Chicago!


 

Isnt Chad still in Come From Away?



"

 

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Why did MEMPHIS not run longer? #22
Posted: 1/14/19 at 6:32pm

I liked it and thought the leads were great also especially Montego Glover.  It was not a great show so I think it did as well as could be expected.  Like others said, there have been other 
Best Musical" winners that did not run as long as "Memphis". 

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Why did MEMPHIS not run longer? #23
Posted: 1/14/19 at 6:35pm

TheGingerBreadMan said: "HogansHero said: "I am also someone who didn't like it and would have much preferred seeing American Idiot which, while flawed in terms of its book, had one of the best scores (wrongfully not eligible) in the last 40+years. I don't think anyone expected it to run as long as it did after it won, which was also a surprise."

Why was it wrongfully not eligible? The musicexisted prior to the show's conception. Sure, new arrangements were done, but to be eligible for Best Score, a majority of the score must be newly written for the show. The eligibility rules were followed. I don't see how it's "wrongful".
"

The Who's Tommy says hi.

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Why did MEMPHIS not run longer? #24
Posted: 1/14/19 at 6:43pm

Memphis really benefited from being one of only two original musical scores that season (the other being The Addams Family, which is also a bad show), and being the only traditional book musical nominated for a lot of the major awards. I saw everything that season other than Million Dollar Quartet, and American Idiot and Fela were both distinctly better and more interesting than Memphis, which is lazy, mediocre, white savior garbage. 

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Why did MEMPHIS not run longer? #25
Posted: 1/14/19 at 7:36pm

I have to say that I really enjoyed it when I saw it (the day after it opened, got much better reviews than I expected, and I happened to be in NYC).  That said, I never bought the cast recording and I never had any interest in seeing it again, so I must have realized deep down that a huge portion of my enjoyment was probably due to the the cast's energy levels, probably amped by getting much better reviews than anyone expected.  

I also felt that the show had no competition that season for regular theatre goers, i.e., not most of the people on this board), who wanted to see something new, fairly 'traditional', and reasonably well reviewed.  That left out Fela, American Idiot and The Addams Family, which had good audiences until I guess Nathan Lane left (but which was terrible and got terrible reviews).

My conclusion: it was enjoyable, energetic, forgettable, and lucky that it ran for three years.

PS -- I tried to watch the taped performance and turned it off pretty quickly (maybe half hour in) because Chad Kimball's performance had evolved to the point where he seemed to be channeling Leonardo DiCaprio's Howard Hughes, during his most extreme phase, and I just couldn't sit through it.