Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Breaking my bloggers block

Okay, I've started and abandoned a couple of posts over the past couple of days. Is there such a thing as bloggers block? I might have it. Or maybe because I have a big theatre trip coming up, I'm just conserving my creative energy.

But there are a few things on my mind. First, a couple of trivia questions:

When Rondi Reed appeared in the last performance of August: Osage County in the afternoon, followed by an Actors Fund benefit of Wicked that evening, someone asked whether anyone else had ever done a Broadway play and musical on the same day. Anyone know the answer? I bet it doesn't happen often!

Has anyone ever been successful at writing a musical's book and music? The only example I could find was Rupert Holmes, who wrote the Tony-winning book, music and lyrics for The Mystery of Edwin Drood. Although Drood was based on an unfinished work by Charles Dickens, so you could say he had a little help with the book.

Now, a couple of interesting observations from producer and fellow blogger Ken Davenport:

First, he summarizes a Broadway League report on touring productions. I was surprised that the number of tickets sold has been declining for six years - predating the recession. Has something changed over the past half-decade in the types of shows that makes them less appealing? Is it ticket prices going north of $100 for the best seats? I don't know. But as someone who sees a lot of shows on the road, the statistic troubles me.

At Just Shows to Go You, Patrick Lee has an interview with Ken, and it was interesting to read his thoughts on what might have kept the Jason Robert Brown musical 13 from becoming a hit. I saw the show last fall and thoroughly enjoyed it.

I wonder if it would have had a better chance opening in the spring and playing through the summer. And while it attracted a lot of attention for its all-teen cast and band, what really drew me in was the story - a Jewish kid from New York who moves to a very Gentile Indiana town. As I said in my review, the gefilte-fish-out-of-water aspect is something we can all relate to, no matter what our age.

Finally, I noticed my friend and fellow blogger Chris, of Everything I Know I Learned From Musicals, will be taking in a staged reading of the under-development musical Tales of the City this weekend. I've only read the first volume of Armistead Maupin's Tales series but I really enjoyed it. And it takes place in San Francisco - one of my favorite cities.

I'm eagerly awaiting Chris' report. Until then, Frank Rizzo at The Hartford Courant has a rundown of the cast for the reading, at the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center. He also talked with Jason Sellards and John Garden, of the Scissor Sisters, who are writing the music.


Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

I know Cynthia Nixon famously did performances in two Broadway shows running at the same time: Hurlyburly and The Real Thing. She was able to run between the Plymouth and the Barrymore Theatres, which are just a couple blocks away from each other.

But I'm not sure that anyone else other than Rondi Reed has navigated from a play to a musical in one day.

Joseph Gomez said...

oh yes there most certainly is bloggers block. i suffer from it almost everyday.

Chris Caggiano said...

Esther, my love. The following people are musical-theater-author triple threats (i.e. people who've written the whole damn show themselves):

Meredith Wilson - The Music Man

Jonathan Larson - Rent

Frank Loesser - The Most Happy Fella

Rick Besoyan - Little Mary Sunshine

Sandy Wilson - The Boy Friend

Lionel Bart - Oliver (although there have been allegation that he didn't write the whole thing himself)

Michael John LaChiusa - Hello Again

Jason Robert Brown - The Last Five Years

Andrew Lippa - The Wild Party

As to whether these were "successful" attempts, well I think think some are, and some aren't. But it's hard to argue that The Music Man is anything short of a masterpiece.

Esther said...

Thanks for the info, SOB. Sounds like the talented and gracious Rondi Reed may indeed have made a little bit of Broadway history. How awesome!

Esther said...

Thanks, Chris! You must have fewer book writer/songwriter arguments if you decide to do the whole damn show yourself.

I should have thought of Jonathan Larson. But Meredith Willson I never would have known. And it's an even greater accomplishment because I don't think the book was based on another source, like many of the others were.

Esther said...

Hey Joseph,

I think you've done a great job with your cast recording reviews. I've really enjoyed them.

Well, sometimes I start a post and then I think, wow, I'm even boring myself! ;-) Also, I have to accept the fact that shorter is better and I don't need to be obsessive about linking so much, which is time-consuming.

Bob said...

Bloggers block - it's a very real thing.