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Posts Tagged ‘Wonderland’

I discussed WONDERLAND in a couple of previous posts. In this one, which I wrote prior to the opening of the show on Broadway, and then in this one, just a couple of weeks after it prematurely closed on the Great White Way. Now that the dust has settled, there has been some time for the people behind the show to think about what went wrong here. Below is a link to an article centering on Judith Lisi, President of The David A. Straz, Jr. Center for Performing Arts in Tampa, and one of the main champions of the work. In the article she tries to wrap her head around the whole WONDERLAND journey from Tampa to Broadway, and ominously predicts what the less than hoped for final result means for the future of developing new works at The Straz.

‘Lessons learned from trip to Wonderland’

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WONDERLAND

THE BOOK OF MORMON

Several weeks ago, WONDERLAND closed on Broadway after a brief run. In an earlier post, I predicted that this show may have some troubles on the Great White Way. That said, many smart, seasoned people were involved with the production of WONDERLAND on both the business and creative sides, and so a lot of experience and care was likely put into how they proceeded. While there is always risk in theatre, I suspect that they felt the title and familiar, accessible subject matter were less risky than most and would have a mainstream appeal in New York, and eventually on The Road. With the Broadway production ending so abruptly, though, a life on The Road for WONDERLAND is uncertain, especially given all the competition from other shows jockeying for position in the 2012-2013 touring season. I did not ever get to see WONDERLAND, but, clearly, something did not come together here.

At the same time, on the other end of the spectrum, there’s THE BOOK OF MORMON, a strong risk with its potential to offend, and so presenters who see it and love it are in a quandary. How will audiences mostly used to tame blockbusters and revivals respond? Is there a risk of offending and losing subscribers?

In my mind, THE BOOK OF MORMON presents a perfect opportunity to shake up, invigorate and, dare I say, “save” The Road with its potential to expand the audience base and prove that quality, original musicals that have something to say CAN work and are worth the risk.

Below are a couple of articles, one out of Kansas City and the other out of Pittsburgh that discuss THE BOOK OF MORMON and the dilemma facing local presenters.

KANSAS CITY STAR

Risky, satisfying shows make their way to Broadway

PITTSBURGH POST-GAZZETTE

Stage reviews:  ‘Book of Mormon’ is best news of Broadway season

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In a previous post I talked about presenters who also produce. Perhaps the most high-profile current example of that situation involves the Broadway-bound production of WONDERLAND, which premiered at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts in Tampa as the first production in the center’s Broadway Genesis Project. I first discussed WONDERLAND in a post back in September.

Well, the WONDERLAND marquis is now up at The Marquis and the show begins previews on March 21 with an opening of April 17. What will be interesting to see, for me at least, is if this production will have that certain New York-level quality that people have come to expect in this town. After having seen many, many shows in New York over the years, as well as touring shows and regional productions, I have always felt a difference between New York theatre productions and out-of-town productions and presentations. There is an unbelievably high level of excellence that we have simply come to expect from a New York production that shows produced and presented outside New York need not try to reach to still be viewed as a quality experience in their local markets. The stakes are simply much higher here in New York than elsewhere. There is a lot more exposure, more critics, and very high expectations all the way around.

I wish WONDERLAND well and look forward to seeing it, but I have to admit I have doubts that it will be a commercial success. There are Broadway musical veterans on the creative team, including composer, Frank Wildhorn of JEKYLL & HYDE and THE SCARLET PIMPERNEL fame, but neither of these shows were critical hits. I also think the reported weaknesses of the book, if not addressed well enough by opening, will ultimately weigh it down. That said, if the score finds enough of a fan base, it could turn into a word-of-mouth crowd-pleaser. WICKED was generally not embraced by the New York critics and look what happened there.

Here are some recent articles about WONDERLAND and its road to Broadway, including one mixed review of the most recent Tampa incarnation this past January…

“Wonderland” is better, but…

WONDERLAND website Unveils Song Previews!

Wonderland streamlined for Straz Center, then Broadway

Frank Wildhorn talks WONDERLAND changes and more

Behind the Poster: A Grown-Up Alice in “Wonderland”

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Another follow up on presenters who produce. Looks like “Wonderland,” which premiered at The Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center, will be coming to Broadway. Here are some recent articles on the topic:

New Musical Returns Alice To Wonderland, Via Broadway

‘Alice in Wonderland’ gets musical on Broadway

‘Wonderland’ Musical discovers name of its Broadway home

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The main role of presenters is essentially to book shows in their venues, but there are presenters who also produce.

What exactly is the difference between presenting theatre and producing theatre, though? The distinction is elementary to those “in the biz,” but it may not necessarily be clear to a lot of other people. Overall, the theatre producer builds a show from the ground up. S/he capitalizes the show, hires the creative team, cast, and so on. The presenter then buys this fully formed show and programs it at her venue, and deals with the process of getting that show into the venue, and up and running for that specific engagement. So, the presenter has to deal with hiring local stagehands and wardobe attendents, renting necessary equipment for loading the show in and out, etc. The presenter does not need to do any casting, or hire the director, or deal with any of the inner workings of the show, except for, perhaps, how these inner workings might interface with the presenter’s venue. For instance, the producer is responsible for providing the actual full physical show that is going on tour, but may need to work with a presenter to make sure the show fits in his venue. Also, in some cases, a show may not be “self-contained” and so local musicians may need to be hired by the presenter to fill out the orchestra as required by local union conditions.

There are some presenters out there who, when they choose to produce, will produce shows at their own venues. Then, there are other presenters who are involved in a producing capacity mainly on Broadway productions. One example of a collective of presenters that produces on Broadway is the Independent Presenters Network, currently represented on the Great White Way with LA CAGE AUX FOLLES. Another collective of presenters that also produces on Broadway is Elephant Eye Theatrical. When a presenter produces at her own venue, it will likely be a much more “hands on” experience than if she were one of many producers on a Broadway production, and if it is a new, large work, her venue would be the lead producer on what could be a possible pre-Broadway project that would also be a world-premiere. A presenter that joins in as a producer on a Broadway show, more likely than not, does so, at least in part, because he has an interest in that show coming to his venue when the show presumably goes out on tour a year or so later.

Below are links to articles about a few shows and the presenters who produced them:

DALLAS THEATER CENTER ARTISTIC DIRECTOR TALKS SUPERMAN MUSICAL

TBPAC TO PRODUCE A MUSICAL ‘WONDERLAND’

TONY-AWARD WINNING PRODUCER LAUDS BROADWAY THEATRE LEAGUE’S UPCOMING SEASON


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