A Helluva Town

So here I am, back in the big bad apple for my annual Broadway trip. As much I hate travel, I do enjoy seeing new Broadway and off Broadway shows. Quite a few of the shows I've seen here soon after became New Line productions.

Last night, after I settled into my hotel, I met up with my buddy Doug Storm (in the background in the picture) -- native St. Louisan, performer on Broadway, off Broadway, and in national tours, and closest to my heart, an original cast member of Bat Boy. Doug left New York a while back, moved back to St. Louis for a bit, tried his luck in Los Angeles and Las Vegas (where he has also performed) and Chicago, and is now back in New York. It was interesting talking to him about how incredibly difficult it is for an actor to make enough money to live on. I think some people think that's only a problem in St. Louis and it's not.

I've got tickets to see five shows while I'm here, but I started today at Lincoln Center, in the Theatre on Film and Tape Collection of the New York Public Library. I saw three things. First, I thought I was gonna see excerpts from the 1969 musical Promenade, but it turned out to be something else with the same title. Shit.

Then I saw excerpts from Carrie, the infamous Broadway muscial flop. As the librarian put it, "We didn't get a chance to tape it" -- in other words, it closed too fast (16 previews and 5 performances). I've always wondered about Carrie, whether it was really as bad as they said it was. Well, now I think it was. What they had on video was a press reel, portions of 7 or 8 songs. Some of them were really wonderful. Betty Buckley (as the crazed mother) was brilliant and powerful. Linzi Hateley in the role of Carrie was very good. I was surprised to see "Leroy" from the original film version of Fame in some of the clips. But many of the songs were awful. And the choreography was by far the blandest, stupidest, and clumsiest I have ever seen in a musical. And not just on Broadway. From what I what I could tell in these clips, the direction was also terrible. No wonder it was such a flop!

And then I watched something really cool -- the recent off Broadway musical The Burnt Part Boys, which is kind of a cross between Floyd Collins and Stand be Me.

It's about a mining town where a bunch of men were killed in a mining accident ten years earlier. With the news that the mine is about to be re-opened, five kids make a pilgrimage to the "burnt part" of the mountain where it happened. The one kid, the central character, brings along dynamite to close the mine up once and for all, accidentally trapping them all inside, and as their air runs out, the dead miners appear and these kids are able to finally say goodbye to their fathers. And the main character's older brother gets his father's blessing to leave the mining life before he's killed as well. Some of Act I was a little slow, but overall, it's a very entertaining show and the last half hour or so is really powerful. You'll be happy to know a cast recording of the very cool bluegrass score is now on Amazon for pre-order.

Tonight I see the revival of Follies, which they say is the best production of this masterpiece since the original. I can't wait.

I'll check in again soon.

Long Live the Musical!