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Steel Pier...was it really that bad?

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Steel Pier...was it really that bad?#1
Posted: 3/16/08 at 12:23am
Hi all...

I was in Steel Pier recently and everyone in the cast hated the show. The plot, the music, everything. When it was on Broadway, was it really that unliked? Has anybody seen it? I personally liked it OKAY...it seems to lack something though...
"I told you, NO Rodgers and Hammerstein!"- Bart Simpson
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re: Steel Pier...was it really that bad?#2
Posted: 3/16/08 at 12:27am
Yes and no.

Personally, I like the show quite a bit. It is largely flawed, though.
"If you are going to do something, do it well. And leave something witchy." -Charlie Manson
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re: Steel Pier...was it really that bad?#2
Posted: 3/16/08 at 12:27am
Yeah, thats all I hear, same thing.


:)
"I told you, NO Rodgers and Hammerstein!"- Bart Simpson
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re: Steel Pier...was it really that bad?#3
Posted: 3/16/08 at 12:29am
It was an amazing dance show and the score is fine.
The book was the problem, someone should win the marathon and the Ziemba character needed a stronger thru line.
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re: Steel Pier...was it really that bad?#4
Posted: 3/16/08 at 12:44am
I really love this show and it's quite a shame that it closed so soon. The thing about it is that it had a lot of flaws, but they were mostly (if not all) in the book, and pretty much all of them could have been easily fixed. But it sort of has an underground cult following, and I'd say nowadays it's pretty well respected. Trust me, there are shows that are a million times worse that lasted (or still last, for that matter) for much longer.

Oh, and my best friend was in a production and she also totally loved it...so I don't know what's up with your cast.
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re: Steel Pier...was it really that bad?#5
Posted: 3/16/08 at 12:45am
What was the age group of the cast?
Trying to figure out if it was the same without asking sketchy questions lol
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re: Steel Pier...was it really that bad?#6
Posted: 3/16/08 at 1:14am
I actually liked much of the score, but besides that, it seemed pretty forgettable.
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re: Steel Pier...was it really that bad?#7
Posted: 3/16/08 at 10:34am
I'm pretty sure the age group was high school/college-ish.
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re: Steel Pier...was it really that bad?#8
Posted: 3/16/08 at 10:58am
I liked Steel Pier when I saw it but there were some changes that could have made it better.

I would have clipped the opening scene where it is pointed out right away that Bill is a ghost. It would be better to have the audience figure it out. They need to make the relationship between Rita and her husband MORE miserable so you want her to get out of the relationship. There are a lot of characters in the piece that are underdeveloped. For example, you never get to hear the story of the society girl who is now forced to dance a marathon to make money.

I am surprised more regional theatres do not do this show as the depression era theme would appeal greatly to those regional blue hair audiences.
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re: Steel Pier...was it really that bad?#9
Posted: 3/16/08 at 12:44pm
STEEL PIER has a great score. The original production had a great cast and great choreography.

It also has a TERRIBLE book and was poorly directed. The characters were one dimentional stereotypes. The plot was like a reject episode of "Touched By An Angel". It was in no way an accurate representation of a real marathon dance.
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re: Steel Pier...was it really that bad?#10
Posted: 3/16/08 at 12:50pm
YES. For the 40,000th time. IT. WAS. THAT. BAD. Listening to a score does NOT give you the full idea of a show. I know that's not what the original poster was asking, but that's always what it comes down to. People only hear the score and wonder why it didn't run.

BECAUSE IT WAS BAD. A disaster. A nightmare of a production experience.
Have I ever shown you my Shattered Dreams box? It's in my Disappointment Closet. - Marge Simpson
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re: Steel Pier...was it really that bad?#11
Posted: 3/16/08 at 12:52pm
dalefully, what...uh...region of the country was it in?
"I told you, NO Rodgers and Hammerstein!"- Bart Simpson
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re: Steel Pier...was it really that bad?#12
Posted: 3/16/08 at 1:59pm
I throughly enjoyed it & was said it did not make it.
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re: Steel Pier...was it really that bad?#13
Posted: 3/16/08 at 2:01pm
I saw Steel Pier’s first preview and liked it a whole lot then. In that performance, it wasn't revealed that Bill was a ghost until near the end of the show and I remember there being an audible gasp from the audience when it happened. I saw it again a week later and they had changed the beginning of the show so that it was known from the very beginning and that's the way it stayed. I never figured out why they stuck with that change since it seemed to me that it really hurt the show and the way the whole thing played.

I loved the score, the choreography, the set, and the two times I saw it, Debra Monk brought down the house with "Everybody’s Girl."
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re: Steel Pier...was it really that bad?#14
Posted: 3/16/08 at 2:13pm
I saw the OBC of Steel Pier and I thought it was very good. A few of the songs are a little long. But all and all I really enjoyed it. Back in the day when Kristin Chenoweth was a chorus girl! LOL! I think people should have given it more credit than they did!
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re: Steel Pier...was it really that bad?#15
Posted: 3/16/08 at 2:14pm
I saw a production in Raleigh, NC many years ago and really enjoyed it. I had always liked the score, but thought the overall production was decent. Agreed, though, with the problems being with the book.
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re: Steel Pier...was it really that bad?#16
Posted: 3/16/08 at 2:53pm
Kristin Chenoweth was a principal and it was her Broadway debut. She was never a "chorus girl".
Have I ever shown you my Shattered Dreams box? It's in my Disappointment Closet. - Marge Simpson
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re: Steel Pier...was it really that bad?#17
Posted: 3/16/08 at 5:00pm
Rathnait62, your comment made me think of Bea Arthur in "Mame":

"I was NEVER in the chorus"

Thank you.
"A coherent existance after so many years of muddle" - Desiree' Armfelt, A Little Night Music "Life keeps happening everyday, Say Yes" - 70, Girls, 70 "Life is what you do while you're waiting to die" - Zorba
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re: Steel Pier...was it really that bad?#18
Posted: 3/16/08 at 5:19pm
And, regarding the short run of "Steel Pier", you have to remember that season also brought us the revival of "Chicago".

"The new show by Kander and Ebb", as theater-goers thought of "Steel Pier", would have had a longer run if it hadn't been up against one of the teams best shows, a revival that turned "Chicago" from an also-ran into an acknowledged classic.

"Chicago" was the one smash show that season. Remember the other shows that opened then: "The Life", "Titanic", "Jekyl & Hyde", and I had to look up the Tony Award site to find out the name of the fourth Best Musical nominee (since "Jekyl & Hyde" was only nominated for Actor and Book, though why the last one I don't know) "Juan Darien, A Carnival"

If Rosie O'Donnell hadn't campaigned for "Titanic", it could have been anyone's year.

And, if it hadn't been for "Chicago", "Steel Pier" would have at least won for Choreography and might have won Best Actor and Actress.
"A coherent existance after so many years of muddle" - Desiree' Armfelt, A Little Night Music "Life keeps happening everyday, Say Yes" - 70, Girls, 70 "Life is what you do while you're waiting to die" - Zorba
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re: Steel Pier...was it really that bad?#19
Posted: 3/16/08 at 5:29pm
This site can be an issue for folks with an iTunes problem. Couldn't find my Steel Pier disc after being inspired to find it after posting. So, I downloaded it (the March Madness hasn't been kind either). I can't believe how poorly I used to treat my discs...scratched beyond recognition and my computer hates them. I need an intervention!
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re: Steel Pier...was it really that bad?#20
Posted: 3/16/08 at 5:35pm
The show is rarely revived in regional theatres so I guess the answer is yes- the show has a pretty bad reputation.

On the negative side, the show has a cheesy new age book and most of the songs are dreadful.

On the positive side, the show had the always phenomenal Debra Monk, Karen Ziemba and Kristin Chenoweth. There are several decent numbers among the turkeys including "Second Chance", and the title song (which brings to mind Little Shop).

"It does what a musical is supposed to do; it takes you to another world. And it gives you a little tune to carry in your head. Something to take you away from the dreary horrors of the real world. A little something for when you're feeling blue. You know?"
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re: Steel Pier...was it really that bad?#21
Posted: 3/16/08 at 8:40pm
Also playing that season was Play On! which, for me, was more enjoyable than Steel Pier - they both suffered the same fate, obviously.

The book of Steel Pier was a disaster, I didn't like the choreography at all, the cast was fine but unfortunately stuck doing characters without any depth, and as much as I'm a fan of Kander and Ebb, the score, with the exception of Second Chance, was one of their weakest. I've tried to reassess the show via the cast album, but I never feel any differently.
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re: Steel Pier...was it really that bad?#22
Posted: 3/16/08 at 8:44pm
In case anybody really wants the synopsis of the book, here it is (courtesy of www.nodanw.com)

Place: STEEL PIER, ATLANTIC CITY
Time: August, 1933

ACT ONE

Prelude: Stunt Pilot Bill Kelly lies face down on the ground, his flight jacket torn, a cloud of smoke hanging in the air over him. He manages to stand up, looking at a raffle ticket he holds in his hand. It's good for three weeks. Ethereal dancers in white moving through the shadows sprinkle sand on the ground to transport the scene to the beach at Atlantic City in 1933.

One-time celebrity Rita Racine is waiting for her partner so they can enter the dance marathon on the Steel Pier. Bill appears and watches Rita dancing in the surf. Known as "Lindy's Lovebird," Rita made her name as the first woman to kiss Lindbergh when he arrived back from France. Bill tells her he admired her singing act on the midway at the Trenton Air Show, but when he asks if she'll dance with him in the marathon, she tells him she's already got a partner. If he ever turns up. Bill goes off to find a partner of his own, while Rita sings of the home she'll return to after this one last marathon.

Inside the Steel Pier ballroom, Mick Hamilton, the Master of Ceremonies, gets the marathon underway. The rules: for forty-five minutes in every hour the contestants must dance; if they fall, collapse or just stop moving, they will be disqualified. Waiting until the last minute for her no-show partner, Rita is forced to accept Bill's offer to dance (even though he has two left feet). He tells Rita about his daredevil stunts at the Trenton Air Show, where he crashed his plane but bought a winning raffle ticket for a kiss and a dance with "Lindy's Lovebird." He is obviously smitten with her, but Rita is secretly married to Mick, the Master of Ceremonies. Mick's scheme is simple. Rita adds glamor to the marathon, Mick makes sure she wins, they take the prize money and move on to the next town. Mick has promised her that this will be her last marathon, but as he confides in Mr. Walker, his assistant, winning is a powerful thing. The other marathon contestants include Shelby Stevens, a former cook in a lumber camp, and her partner, harmonica virtuoso Luke Adams; struggling young newlyweds from Utah, Precious and Happy McGuire; Olympic wrestler Johnny Adel and his partner, one-time socialite Dora Foster; and vaudeville brother-and-sister team Bette and Buddy Becker. Since Bill isn't up to Rita's level as a dancer, Mick himself shows her off on the dance floor while Bill watches from the sidelines, admiring the woman he loves. Mick gets the band to turn up the musical heat, as the dancers compete for sponsorship.

As time passes, the contestants begin dropping from exhaustion, and Mick tries to liven things up with their speciality acts, starting with Shelby. Another of Mick's schemes is to trump up a romance between Bill and Rita, culminating in a wedding on the dance floor-only pretend, of course-and he insists that Rita tell Bill, in spite of her misgivings. After the 'Two Step', on their hourly fifteen-minute break, Rita finds Bill on the boardwalk, at the tank of the Diving Horse, where he shows off and she dares him to jump in for a swim. But before Rita can tell Bill of Mick's plan, their break is over, in time for Luke Adams' Harmonica Speciality. When Mick brings Rita and Bill up to the mic' to announce their engagement on the nightly radio broadcast, Bill proposes unprompted by either. In celebration, Mick has Rita sing her signature tune as we flashback to her act at the Trenton Air Show where Bill first saw her. The scene shifts back to the Steel Pier where, in order to knock out some of the competition, Mick announces that it's time to run "the Sprints". Rita falls, but Bill somehow manages to stop time and run it back again so she won't be disqualified before his time is up. This time she doesn't fall, as the marathon continues.

ACT TWO

As the publicity stunt wedding approaches, Rita is drawn to Bill in ways she can't admit. He even enters her dreams during a fifteen-minute nap, taking her on a celestial aeroplane ride. The young farmer, Happy, has dropped out of the marathon, in hopes that his wife Precious will come home with him to Utah. Precious has other, grander plans for herself, but when Shelby offers to take her place with Happy he gently turns her down. On the phoney wedding night, Mick takes Rita up to the roof to show her the lines of people flocking to buy tickets. Suspecting her growing feelings for Bill, Mick insists she get him to drop out as soon as the wedding's over, and leaves. Rita is consoling herself with her dream that this will be her last marathon when Precious comes looking for Mick, who clearly has taught Precious more about show business than his secret marital status should allow. Rita's world seems to be coming apart.

The circus-like atmosphere of the wedding is heightened by the cellophane costumes the wedding party wears. In exchange for her personal favours, Mick has featured Precious in the ceremony as the personification of Fralinger's Salt Water Taffy. For the titillation of the crowd, Rita and Bill are given their fifteen-minute break in a honeymoon tent on the dance floor, one Rita knows can be ripped away at any moment. When she wishes she and Bill could escape, Bill offers to take her away in his plane, telling her that anything can happen if you believe in your dreams. But Bill's time has run out. As he explains to Rita that his three weeks are up, the tent is ripped away and the hurt and confused Rita runs from the dance floor. Bill watches her go and then leaves. Mick tries to force Rita back onto the floor to finish the marathon with another partner but Rita is determined to go home, to the house that Mick angrily informs her he had to sell long before. As Rita packs to leave, Mick furiously reminds her of everything he has done for her. Grabbing the Air Show raffle ticket Bill had given her out of her hand, he reminds her how her act failed in Trenton after some "hot-dog pilot" got himself killed in a crash. Suddenly everything becomes clear to Rita. For three weeks she has been dancing with a man - falling in love with a man - who was only with her on borrowed time. As she realises what a loveless trap her life with Mick has been, the world around her fades away and Bill appears. Urging her to take a chance on her life, he asks her at last for the dance he won in the raffle. When their tender dance is through, he is swept away by the dancers in white and the world of the marathon returns. Rita is surrounded by the exhausted surviving contestants, but she picks up her suitcase and, with a triumphant sense of hope and determination, she leaves the marathon behind forever.


http://www.nodanw.com/shows_s/steelpier.htm
"It does what a musical is supposed to do; it takes you to another world. And it gives you a little tune to carry in your head. Something to take you away from the dreary horrors of the real world. A little something for when you're feeling blue. You know?"
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re: Steel Pier...was it really that bad?#23
Posted: 3/16/08 at 8:46pm
I think the book needs a rewrite but the score is top class Kander and Ebb. I was at the closing night on Broadway and it was a really good production - terrific dancing and two knock-out performances from Karen Ziemba and Debra Monk.
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re: Steel Pier...was it really that bad?#24
Posted: 3/16/08 at 8:52pm
I think STEEL PIER was definitely one of the worst Kander & Ebb scores (which is better than other people's best scores but that doesn't mean much). I like Monk's "Everybody's Girl," the song itself is not that great but she sells it like only Monk can. Chenoweth's solo isn't too bad either (again, the actress not the song is what makes it sort of work). Honestly, I've tried to listen to the whole cast recording but I can't get through it.
Wasn't STEEL PIER written as a star vehicle for Ziemba?
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