Saturday, May 9, 2009

Longest running (time) shows

It's fairly easy to find a list of the longest-running shows on Broadway but finding the shows with the longest running times is another matter.

I was thinking about it because of this story in the Washington Post about the musical Giant, currently in the midst of its world premiere at Virginia's Signature Theatre. The epic tale of a Texas cattle-ranching family, based on the novel by Edna Ferber, clocks in at four hours.

Okay, you may be muttering to yourself, "What difference does it make how long the show runs? The only thing that matters is whether it's any good." Good point. But I am kind of curious. Could a show that long be viable on Broadway today?

I think August: Osage County is the longest show I've seen, and at just under 3 1/2 hours the play didn't seem long at all. The 1999 Broadway revival of The Iceman Cometh, with Kevin Spacey, Paul Giamatti, Michael Emerson (Benjamin Linus from Lost!) and Tony Danza ran for 4 hours and 20 minutes. I'm sure I would have sat there riveted the entire time.

I tried to think of other epic and not-so-epic musicals. The running time for the recent Broadway revival of Les Miserables was 2 hours and 55 minutes. The Producers' running time was 2 hours and 50 minutes.

You can find the running times of most current Broadway shows here. (Not every one lists the information.) A few musicals, like Mary Poppins and Billy Elliot, clock in at at 2 hours and 45 minutes. South Pacific runs approximately 3 hours.

While I haven't heard any of Michael John LaChiusa's score, Vance, from Tapeworthy, raves about the musical. And I really like the 1956 movie version of Giant, which starred Rock Hudson, Elizabeth Taylor and James Dean. I'm also a big fan of sprawling epics and stories that span the generations.

Personally, I would definitely be psyched for a musical as big as Texas. Just make sure there are two Texas-sized bathroom breaks!


Vance said...

I saw the Iceman Cometh when it was still at the Old Vic and while it started off slow, by the end, the 4 hours flew by. Lord of the Rings musical clocked in at 3hrs 45min but felt LONG. Ragtime is 3 hours but so awesome that I think it's too short. And again, the Civil War is now 95 min and felt longer than the 4 hours at Giant. So it really comes down to quality. Still, the four hours Im sure scares a lot of people away, but hey, more bang for your bucks right? (I don't regret seeing Lord of the Rings though)

Esther said...

Oh Vance, I'm soooo jealous that you saw Iceman at the Old Vic! I do like seeing my money up on stage but I wonder if they'd charge twice as much for a four-hour show?!

Vance said...

If they were clever like Norman Conquests, they charge 3x, but all the others were basically the same. In fact, since I got deals for them all, they were less than usual. (13 lb rush for Iceman, $25 Ragtime for the few cheap seats they reserve (but were great seats), $30 rush for Giant, and $45 discount for LOTR!)

Sarah B. Roberts said...

Les Mis felt like it was ONE HUNDRES and 2 hours and 55 minutes. I just wanted them to die already.