Friday, May 23, 2008

The SOB Five "Worst" Of 2007-08

The SOB Five "Worst" Of 2007-08

As noted yesterday, I've been extremely fortunate to take in 84 different performances of 81 various productions during the course of the 2007-08 Theatrical Season.

Since I'm not given freebie tickets, instead paying for them all out of my own pocket, you can bet that I'm hoping beyond hope to be entertained by every single one of them. Even though there's really no such thing as a bad night at the theatre -- after all, you have to see some real dogs (my apologies to my pooches Henne and Fargo) to truly appreciate the best -- I've still managed to see some downright awful shows.

Since I paid for every last ticket and still take no paid advertising, I'm taking advantage of my right to free speech by offering up my third annual list of the "5 Worst" shows I saw. I may as well unleash all my inner negativism now before moving on to all the wonderful shows that have made my "Best of" lists.

And so, without any further ado, here are the SOB Five Worst of 2007-08:

5 - Cry-Baby (Marquis Theatre, New York, NY)

Is it fair to count a performance of Cry-Baby when it was just three weeks into previews among my worst? Well, if they can charge me to see a bad show, I can include it on my list, and there was nothing about it that made me want to return once the show opened. I can only hope it actually improved, given its Tony nominations. Despite its multi-million dollar budget, this new musical quite incredibly comes across as a poor man's Grease with its tired good girl gone gaga for bad boy premise. Sadly, the latest John Waters-inspired Broadway musical Cry-Baby is trashy fun. Without the fun.

4 - Gone With The Wind (New London Theatre, London, UK)

A flop of epic proportions, I understand that they're still chiseling away at this show a month after it opened in hopes of avoiding all their capitalization from becoming Gone With The Wind. Although purely unintentional, this ranks as one of the year's funniest laugh-out loud musicals. Simply put, writer/sociologist Margaret Martin and director Trevor Nunn fail to deliver a compelling musical that can stand on its own. Their efforts have added nothing to the art of live theatre except endless exposition. Do we really need a narrator telling us that Miss Scarlett is about to look at herself in the mirror when we can see that for ourselves, or worse, having her step over dying soldiers rolling around on the stage who suddenly rise up to tell us they're all dying? Funny, yet sad at the same time.

3 - The Ritz (Studio 54, New York, NY)

The flaccid revival of Terrence McNally's The Ritz was low on shock value, except for how dull and lifeless it was. Ranking as one of director Joe Mantello's most disappointing efforts yet, the only real highlight came near the end of the first act when its whacked-out Googie (Rosie Perez) took to the stage of The Ritz baths to sing an insipid, if it weren't so inspired, medley of tunes slapped together from the deviously clever mind of Seth Rudetsky. For one brief enjoyable moment, The Ritz thrilled before reverting back to the facile facscimile it was.

2 - Glory Days (Circle In The Square Theatre, New York, NY)

In retrospect, I was far too kind to the subpar, threadbare 90-minute Glory Days that dared to call itself a Broadway musical. The show vanished immediately after opening night. If not for the worst show of the year, the ill-fated Glory Days ironically would have achieved that dubious distinction. Coming across as not even quite half-finished, this is not the type of show that should have so easily or quickly been catapulted directly to the Broadway spotlight from a regional theatre. The show could easily have been mounted by an Off Off-Broadway house and attracted an appropriate youthful audience it was clearly targeting without having the audacity to charge $100 or more per ticket. No glory there.

1 - Triple Espresso (Music Box Theatre, Minneapolis, MN)

Bad to the very last drop, Triple Espresso was an inexplicably long-running musical revue about an eponymous comedy trio reuniting after 25 years. After running over a decade, it apparently had been percolating so long, it lost all its taste. The warmed-over schlock simultaneously tasted like it had been on the burner way too long without ever having been fully brewed to begin with.

So, there you have them: SOB's choices for the "5 Worst" shows I endured during the 2007-08 Theatrical Season. As I've stated in previous years:

Of course, this is all in the eye of the beholder. You may vehemently disagree or wonder whether I even have a clue as to what is artistic and what is not. But since my goal in life is to enjoy it rather than simply being a dilettante, I’m going to tell it like I see it by naming the five productions that I enjoyed less than any others.
If you saw any of these shows, let me know what you thought. And please feel free to share the worst shows you sat through (or walked out of) during that past year!

This is Steve On Broadway (SOB).

Related Stories:
SOB's Best & Worst Of 2007-08 Theatre Season (May 22, 2008)
SOB's Best Of 2006-07: Top Ten Of The Year (June 4, 2007)
SOB's Best of 2006-07: Best Special Theatrical Events (May 23, 2007)
SOB's Best Of 2006-07: Best New Musicals (May 22, 2007)
SOB's Best Of 2006-07: Best New Plays (May 21, 2007)
SOB's Best Of 2006-07: Best Revivals Of Musicals (May 18, 2007)
SOB's Best Of 2006-07: Best Revivals Of Plays (May 16, 2007)
The SOB Five "Worst" Of 2006-07 (May 14, 2007)
SOB's Best & Worst Of 2006-07 Theatre Season (May 14, 2007)
SOB's Best of 2005-06: #1 - Theater Of The New Ear (May 30, 2006)
SOB’s Best of 2005-06: #2 – Guys And Dolls (May 26, 2006)
SOB’s Best of 2005-06: #3 – Hedda Gabler (May 25, 2006)
SOB’s Best of 2005-06: #4 – A Blameless Life (May 24, 2006)
SOB’s Best of 2005-06: #5 – Reeling (May 23, 2006)
SOB’s Best of 2005-06: #6 – “MASTER HAROLD”…And The Boys (May 21, 2006)
SOB’s Best of 2005-06: #7 – Love Song (May 19, 2006)
SOB's Best of 2005-06: #8 - Billy Elliot The Musical (May 18, 2006)
SOB's Best of 2005-06: #9 - The Well-Appointed Room (May 17, 2006)
SOB's Best of 2005-06: #10 - Sweeney Todd (May 15, 2006)
SOB's Best and Worst of 2005-06 Theatre Season (May 12, 2006)
Flashback: Best of 2004-05 (May 26, 2006)
Flashback: Best of 2003-04 (May 25, 2006)
Flashback: Best of 2002-03 (May 25, 2006)
Flashback: Best of 2001-02 (May 24, 2006)
Flashback: Best of 2000-01 (May 23, 2006)

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At 23 May, 2008, Blogger Esther said...

A lot of the shows that I was most looking forward to: Cry-Baby, The Country Girl, Rock 'n' Roll, Young Frankenstein, ended up being among my most disappointing.

With Cry-Baby, I didn't find the story, the songs or the characters memorable, especially when compared with the brilliance of Hairspray. It was just kind of bland and uninspired, which I think sums up a lot of disappointing shows. But I did like seeing Harriet Harris on stage.

And Rock 'n' Roll was pretentious and disjointed. I never really felt engaged with either side of the story, in England or Czechoslovakia. The constant shifting of locations didn't help.

Young Frankenstein had some good scenes, like the ride to the castle and "Roll in the Hay," and I liked Christopher Fitzgerald. But Roger Bart was disappointing. I laughed a little, but overall not nearly as good as I was expecting.

At 23 May, 2008, Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

Esther, I didn't exactly go into Cry-Baby expecting Hairspray, but I didn't expect to be completely underwhelmed, either.

Like you, I was summarily disappointed in Rock 'N' Roll, which I also found pretentious and B-O-R-I-N-G, but it at least had its moments.

As for Young Frankenstein, I enjoyed it more than most.

But isn't it interesting that both of us were disappointed by shows that we so looking forward to this year. Cry-Baby had been on my list of the five shows I most wanted to see. Oh well.

At 23 May, 2008, Blogger Dale said...

I count myself lucky not having seen any of these turkeys. I was curious about Cry Baby but skeptical after seeing an online video for it.

The last truly exquisitely bad show I saw was here in Toronto, the Queen musical We Will Rock You that I wrote about here.

At 23 May, 2008, Anonymous BroadwayBaby said...

As I mentioned before, I'm part of a vocal minority that enjoyed Cry-Baby, although I will admit that the two leads were mis-cast.

I have to say that it takes a lot for me to really love a show or hate a show. I enjoyed but didn't go nuts over Rock N' Roll, Young Frankenstein, and Passing Strange.


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