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BroadwayWorld Book Club Week Five Discussion Prompts: The Neil Simon Theatre

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BWW Book Club

Discussion questions:

Below are the discussion questions/prompts for the fifth chapter of The Untold Stories of Broadway: The Neil Simon Theatre! Feel free to answer as many questions as you would like to get the conversation going! The author of The Untold Stories of Broadway, Jennifer Ashley Tepper, will be hosting a Facebook Live Q & A at 12pm ET today! Please post any questions here that you would like her to answer!

·       When was the first time you heard about Merrily We Roll Along? Would you like to see a revival of it on Broadway?

·       Jennifer Tepper said that Merrily We Roll Along changed her life. What show would you consider to be the one that changed your life?

·       Which Sondheim show is your favorite?

·       Did you have the chance to see Hairspray on Broadway?

·       Frank Wildhorn discussed songs from his musicals becoming hits on the radio and having crossover appeal. Which “radio” artist would you like to “cross over” and write a Broadway musical?


I loved reading about the Neil Simon Theatre, and so wish I would've had the chance to see a show there (however, I have walked by the theater several times when there were no audiences, and it was such a peaceful, yet powerful feeling)!

The first time I heard about Merrily We Roll Along was actually when I read this book for the first time when it was first released in 2013, my first semester of college! I immediately was intrigued with the whole storyline, and somehow managed to purchase the cast recording on CD! I loved the music, and would constantly listen to it. A few months later, I was ecstatic to find out that my school was putting it on stage! Never in a million years did I think that I would be able to see this beautiful show live, and I'm so glad I did. To this day I will never understand why it did not do well on Broadway. The show is brilliant! I'm excited to go and watch the documentary on it. I would absolutely love to see a Broadway revival sometime down the road, especially since I missed the Encores! performance.

The show that definitely changed my life was Once on This Island. My school had done it during my senior year of college, and I really enjoyed it seeing it then. However, the revival was the first Broadway show I got to work on when I was interning in the city. I was able to learn the ins and outs of not only putting a revival back on a Broadway stage, but about the show itself. It came at a perfect time in my life when I was unable to be with my family in Puerto Rico during Hurricane Maria. I remember getting emotional throughout the whole show, especially during "Why We Tell the Story." 

My favorite Sondheim shows are coincidentally two of the ones that played the Alvin, Company, and Merrily We Roll Along! I think the storylines and music are some of Sondheim's best, along with some of the best music I've ever heard in musical theatre history. "Being Alive" from Company is one of my favorite musical theatre songs, and I'm hoping that once the Broadway shutdown is over, I can see the revival at the Jacobs. 

Sadly, I did not have the chance to see Hairspray on Broadway. That show is so fun, and I'm obsessed with the music and movie musical with Zac Efron and John Travolta! Luckily, there's plenty of clips on YouTube!

I think it would be interesting to see Taylor Swift write a musical. I'm not sure if she has a background in musical theatre, but I think she has great songwriting skills. Her older albums, like Speak Now and Fearless tell great stories that I think would be something different to see on stage.  


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Broadway Legend
Broadway Legend

I saw my first Broadway show (Annie) at what was then named the Alvin Theatre in 1978.  I still have my ticket stub from that performance.  Front mezzanine was $15!!  I even got to meet Sarah Jessica Parker in 1979 when she was playing Annie.  I used to have a picture of the 2 of us, but somehow it got misplaced a few years ago. This particular theatre will always hold a special place for me.  I never saw a show there again until the 1996 revival of The King and I.  The show I saw the most there was Hairspray.  A friend of mine was in the revival of Ragtime in 2009 and gave me a backstage tour.

Hey Dottie! Did your colleagues enjoy the cake even though your cat decided to sit on it? ~GuyfromGermany
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Mr. Wormwood

An interesting note on the Neil Simon Theatre is when it was the Alvin Theatre, Merrily actually set off a string of five straight bombs within a calendar year

Merrily We Roll Along closed 11/28/81 after 16 performances

The Little Prince and the Aviator closed in previews on 1/17/82

Little Johnny Jones closed 3/21/82 after 1 performance

Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up? closed 5/30/82 after 5 performances

Seven Brides for Seven Brothers closed 7/11/82 after 5 performances


Yikes, that's some bad luck for one theatre in one year!