Thursday, July 15, 2010
SECOND ACT TROUBLE
SECOND ACT TROUBLE: BEHIND THE SCENES AT BROADWAY’S BIG MUSICAL BOMBS. Steven Suskin. Applause Books; 2006.
While it may be more fun to see a well-put-together musical than a turkey, it’s almost as much fun to read the details behind the disasters of Broadway’s musical mega-bombs. Suskin has collected essays, reviews, excerpts from books and memoirs, all of which deal with musical shows that were either critical or commercial bombs, or both, or that closed out of town [or opened and closed on the same night]. Some of these shows made it to Broadway for brief engagements, or lost money no matter how long they played. Along the way we get insiders’ views of star egos, bad concepts, bad judgment, and broken hearts as actors, composers, songs and entire concepts are replaced. Shows covered include The Act, Illya Darling, Mack & Mabel, Tenderloin, Skyscraper and Pickwick, among many others. Suskin has divided the book into sections where similar problems – such as difficult stars – caused a particular series of productions to implode. Some of the shows were inspired by successful movies: Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Golden Boy, I Remember Mama, The Red Shoes, Nick and Nora [the “Thin Man” movie series].
Verdict: Almost as entertaining as a first-class musical. ***.