Q: What’s better than celebrating Thanksgiving with a big, juicy, turkey?
A: Celebrating with three of them! Here are my favorites: The Capeman: Proof that just because one of the world’s best songwriters and a Nobel Prize winner for literature get together, doesn’t mean they’ll make a great musical. (It did have some great tunes, and despite the fact that the CD was recorded (and features Marc Anthony), Paul Simon has refused to release it. (I have an advance copy, but don’t tell anyone.))
The Goodbye Girl: Proof that just because you have one of America’s most prolific comedic playwrights,the composer of one of the greatest musicals of all time, a Tony Award winning lyricist, a movie star and a theater star, doesn’t mean you’ll have a show that achieves even close to the same success as the movie on which it is based.
Lestat: Proof that just because you have a movie company with almost an unlimited budget as a producer,
one of the world’s greatest popular music artists as a composer, and source material enjoyed by millions and millions of people, doesn’t mean that your musical won’t suck (pun intended). Oh yeah, and by the
way, vampire musicals just don’t work on stage. Duh.
So what’s to learn from having eaten all this turkey, laced with so much tryptophan, it put so many of us to sleep?
1 – Musicals are a collaborative art form. Creating a musical is not writing a novel, where you sit in a room by yourself at your keyboard and crank it out page by page. Creating a musical is not painting a picture, where you sit in front of a canvas and use your own set of brushes and colors to complete your vision. Creating a great musical can’t be done with just one person. It needs a composer, a lyricist, a book writer, a producer, actors, designers, an orchestrator, musicians, and so on and so on. And every single one of those people needs to be delivering 110%. That’s one of the reasons the failure rate for musicals is so high. Put something that requires perfection for not one party but several into an incredibly restrictive financial model, and all of a sudden that 80% failure rate makes sense.
2 – Applying converse logic to the above list says that if extremely well recognized, experienced and lauded artists can produce flops, then unrecognized and inexperienced artists can produce great shows. So don’t think that just because you haven’t won an award or sold a million records that you can’t create a great show.
Because if they can suck, then you can succeed.