Is San Francisco over as a place to try out new musicals?

toto2
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Just wondering if San Francisco will be picked as a city to try out new musicals going forward? It seems to have created a bad reputation for killing shows and not helping them, as Mambo Kings and Lennon both tried out there and died fast, Kings not making it to Bway and Lennon closing quickly. Wicked went through a difficult trial by fire there before it came to Bway, although it did manage to turn things around when it got to New York. Now Lestat has got mixed-to-bad notices from the SF press, although Variety, a non-SF paper, gave it a more positive review, and sharks like the Post's Riedel are now circling in the water for that show.

There are a lot of other places with favorable reputations for trying out new shows - Toronto, Houston, Chicago, etc. San Fran has such a poor reputation for movie criticism that the movie studios no longer premiere any films there. It's a beautiful city, but why should any Bway producer in his or her right mind now want to try out in San Francisco?

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QMAN03
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I agree. They should all start here in San Diego. I mean think about it, almost all the shows that start here are successes (Hairspray, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Chita (Ok, not a success, but not bad nonetheless). Imaginary Friends is the only bad one I can remember. But the San Fran. curse is a good point. Never thought of that.
Labashier
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QMAN, you can't forget to put Dracula in the flop category, but along with that in the successes comes Into the Woods, Tommy, and Thoroughly Modern Millie.

(and hopefully soon-to-be Zhivago!)
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Shawk
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I would hope not. SF has a reputation for forgiving audiences, and I can't see how it's SF's fault if shows with a lot of problems choose SF for their pre-Broadway engagements. I highly suspect that those troubled shows would still be troubled shows wherever they chose to open originally.
'"Contrairiwise," continued Tweedledee, "if it was so, it might be; and if it were so, it would be; but as it isn't, it ain't. That's logic."' ~Lewis Carroll
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respeck
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Hairspray tried out in Seattle, even though O'Brien was the director.

But yeah, San Diego has sort of an unfair advantage having both Des McAnuff and Jack O'Brien as local residents, and so people will always come out to see what's at the La Jolla Playhouse or Old Globe.
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There's nothing wrong with San Francisco. It's the miserable shows sent to the city that need to be "over." Stop sending bad shows to SF! We don't like being NY's guinea pigs for bad shows!
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We get A Chorus Line in September. I'm looking foward to that :)
Pillowpants. 'Nuff said.
toto2
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I think they might just stop sending any shows there...

Wizard of Oz didn't work until Over the Rainbow was included, and the producers needed the time and space to do that - it's unclear to me how SF is helping any new shows to be developed right now
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I agree San Diego should get ALL new shows to try out.

(Don't expect too much of Zhivago unless there has been MAJOR work done. It was dreadful. Probably my worst evening in the theatre in 10 years.)

Let's hope the Times They are a Changing increases the batting average.
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ya it has nothing to do with the city...it has to do with the people who pick what shows go to the Curran, Golden Gate and the Orpheum.
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RentBoy86
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Do you think the city that the producers pick to try things out of town is important? Chicago, San Francisco, and Seattle I can see because they're pretty theater savy, but like Little Shop opening in Ft. Lauderdale or Lion King opening in Minn.? Just wondering if you think it matters. Color Purple tried out in Atlanta. Just wondering if the city that they pick is important. Why would someone pick Ft. Lauderdale over Chicago or vice versa?
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wickedfreak
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I wish more shows would start in Houston....this is a HUGE theater town.....we all love the arts....Frank Wildhorn premierd some of his shows here....Beauty and the Beast premiered.....a few others tooo.....those were the only big names i think.....So everyone come to houston....we have the BEST theater ever! The Hobby Center.
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SHAWK SAID:
"I would hope not. SF has a reputation for forgiving audiences, and I can't see how it's SF's fault if shows with a lot of problems choose SF for their pre-Broadway engagements. I highly suspect that those troubled shows would still be troubled shows wherever they chose to open originally."

You couldn't be more RIGHT! San Francisco is renown for its respect of arts and wide-eyed, friendly, open-minded forgiving people and audiences. To be frank, I also think we're one of the friendliest large cities in the Nation. We love our Arts out here.

I hardly think it's the blame of the SF critics for how shows turn out. If a show is "bad" it's likely to receive similar reviews no matter what it's debut city.

If you had experienced "Lennon" or "Mambo Kings" in SF you'd also have witnessed the HUGE smiles and fun and almost-full theatres. SF loved "Lennon" and so did the critics. The actors loved the fans at the Stage Door and many people went back for several shows. It was a rock concert right on Market Street and people really enjoyed it. To be honest, I also think the SF show was MUCH better than the NYC version (because they messed with it SOOO much).

"Mambo Kings" had a great turn-out because of the Latin casting. It brought in a less-common theatre demographic (Latino) because the women wanted to meet Jaime Camil! It didn't make too many sales but it wasn't ripped apart either.

Of course I fear for San Francisco's theatrical future! Ever since seeing "Lestat" I've been thinking: "Oh sh*t! Are we gonna lose our special privilege after this?"

So, please get off SF's back a little.. I love my City. And I sincerely hope we don't lose our Bway premieres because they're so few and far-between, they really make us feel special! We are, however, still a popular stop for Tours and Special Engagements so that's a plus! Here's hoping for "A Chorus Line"
Updated On: 1/11/06 at 10:18 PM
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Bad shows aren't going to kill it for San Francisco, but it may (hopefully) discourage either:

Lazy production teams
Creative teams who have no idea what they are doing.

And encourage:

GOOD SHOWS!
yr ronin,
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San Diego is such a wonderful place and the Old Globe Theater is fantastic (check out their Shakesperean productions). I agree that audiences however are so different on both coasts. I guess what works one place doesnt work in another (and preview changes aren't helpful sometimes)
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It's not our problem we have great people down here in SD. If the audience is good, the talent is good. hehe.
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It is not SF's fault that the shows previewing here this year are troubled. Please don't forget that Mamma Mia, Wicked and Irving Berlin's White Christmas also premiered here. All three were successful and still are. I am sure there are more that I am leaving out. I'd say we are about even right now.

We've got A Chorus Line coming up this spring, as well.

So lay off SF!
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The point of a try out city is so that the production team can gauge an audience response and hopefully use the experience to improve a show. I feel like most producers now use other cities just to premiere their shows to the public with little interest in spending more money to actually improve the show.

It doesn't matter what city it is, it's the producers/creative team. If they ignore the criticism, then they should just open on Broadway instead of wasting money.

That being said, I'm hoping that producers will come back to Boston. There are no shows trying out this year, which makes me a little sad. Last year, we had Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf (brilliant!) and Sweet Charity (not bad). The critics promise not to be too harsh.
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irene2
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QMAN03, did you forget Jersey Boys also originated here in San Diego? I agree with the poster who said Zhivago needs LOTS of work. Interesting production, but I can't see it going to Broadway any time soon.
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Leave SF Alone...It wouldn't matter what city it was in, "LESTAT" is a trainwreck. I didn't see "LENNON" or "MAMBO KINGS" but if they had the same troubles as "LESTAT" then it's not SF's fault.

Somethings that come to mind:

"WICKED" got mixed reviews, but from what I read, there wasn't too much that needed fixing in the version first seen in SF. Many reviewers had good things to say about Glinda, her character, the songs, etc... It seemed that Elphaba character needed focusing and Fyero some tweaking.

"HAIRSPRAY" was an instant hit in Seattle, and went into NY pretty much intact.

"FULL MONTY" in SD was in terrific shape from the get go (saw it, loved it, and didn't notice anything radically changed

"MILLIE" and "DIRTY ROTTEN SCOUNDRELS" (saw and loved both) were also solid and the changes not as drastic.

There's a pattern here....the material started out well-crafted, entertaining, watchable, enjoyable, etc. BEFORE they even opened in a trial city.


toto2
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The weird thing about San Fran is that the audiences do seem to be responsive, and have been supposedly giving frequent standing ovations to Lestat. The show is also reportedly sold out for its entire run there, which is a lot of revenue from a 1,400 seat theatre like the Curran.

However, the critical response from the SF press was much more cutting (and more predictable in its use of vampire metaphors) than Variety, the only non-SF paper to review Lestat, which called it a good rough cut while pointing out the problems in the show, and so the critics there seem disproportionately negative.

Perhaps it's just a much more difficult rite of passage for a producer trying a show out in SF...
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Just saw Lestat this evening, and from where I was sitting, the only people standing up at the end of it were the ones who couldn't bear the lack of circulation from sitting for what seemed like an eternity. The crowd on the way out was grumbling.

I feel bad for the actors, because I think there's some genuine talent there, but the writing was horribly uneven, the characters poorly drawn and the music and songs wholly inappropriate. The show had the mood of a Disneyland parade.

Elton John should stick to releasing greatest hits cds and leave the stage writing to someone willing to do more than spew mediocre, unmemorable pablum.
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Toto, I've seen Lestat twice and neither time was there a standing ovation. The first time, there were clumps here and there. The second time, no one standing. (Of those who were left.)

SF audiences tend to give standing Os to old favorites like Les Miz and Phantom -- they know what they like. When something is AS bad as Lestat has been, they're not going to be that generous.

Sometimes "I can't see" or "sheep" syndrome does come into play at some shows (I'm pretty sure that's why J & H got one), but I could tell that wasn't going to happen at Lestat. People were adamant about not giving a pity standing O.
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toto2
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I've seen it twice now, including the opening night, and both nights had full standing Os. I heard it did happen also on other nights - of course standing ovations never happen consistently, but they are there for Lestat, even in its current form. So I think the audience response has been pretty generous - the critics much less so...
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Slight threadjack- I wish Toronto would come back as a tryout/development city.. *sigh*
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