June 6, 2007

Requiem for "The Pirate Queen"

With the exception of The Producers' rascally Max Bialystock, no one sets out to put on a bad show. And so for that reason alone it was sad when the news came yesterday that The Pirate Queen, the Les Miz duo Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg's step-dancing musical about a 16th century female pirate, has posted the notice that it will play its final performance on June 17. It's different when a movie disappears from the local cineplex because you know you can catch it later on DVD or pay-per-view. But once a Broadway show is gone, it's gone. Not even a revival can recreate the ephemeral pleasures, or agonies, of the original, although this season's slavishly copycat revivals of A Chorus Line and Les Miserables have certainly tried. That's why I wish more Broadway shows were recorded on DVD.

I know that archival copies are made but unless you’re an academic or have some connection to the business, it’s hard to get access to them. I suppose producers would argue that people might be less likely to shell out $100 bucks for a seat if they thought they could rent the same show from Blockbuster or Netflix and watch it at home just a few months later. So here's my compromise: there ought to be a special exemption for flops. The moment the closing notice goes up for a show that has played fewer than, say, 100 performances, the production should be taped and then sold to the public. It might be a way for the investors to recoup some cash and it would delight people like me. Because if you love Broadway musicals, then there's a special place in your heart for the ones that failed, especially the big, ambitious duds. That’s why every serious musical lover has read—and maybe reread—Ken Mandelbaum’s “Not Since Carrie: Forty Years of Broadway Musical Flops” and Steven Suskin’s “Second Act Trouble: Behind the Scenes at Broadway's Big Musical Bombs.” And who amongst us wouldn't now jump at the chance to see the original Carrie? Or Big Deal? Or Breakfast at Tiffany's? Or maybe a few years from now, The Pirate Queen?


Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

Intriguing idea - I would wonder how they'd take care of paying each of the performers though.

Anonymous said...

I imagine the payments could be handled the same way they are for cast album recordings.

Stephanie Grant Duke said...

Your black background with white and colored script is difficult (and annoying) to read. In fact, and I experience it with similar blogs, the effect produces a sickly, dizzying, nauseated feeling and I just have to move on to something else--a shame, when obviously your theatre observations are well worth reading. Think about choosing another style.

Anonymous said...

I treasure every night I have in the theater, even the bad ones. Especially the bad ones. Seeing shows like The Pirate Queen and Lestat help me appreciate what goes into a really good show, like Grey Gardens or Spring Awakening. Pirate Queen wasn't nearly as torturous to sit through as Lestat, but it was still pretty darned bad. And had Schonberg and Boublil actually listened to Richard Maltby's suggestions, who knows, it might have been passable musical theater. But their egos got in the way, and the show sufered as a result.

Anonymous said...

I think that is a wonderful idea but if there are talks about other things in the works for the show then that'll be a long way coming. And I wouldn't exactly call it a flop. There is a problem with Broadway and that is there is too much comparing and people that aren't theatre lovers listen to critics and Tony voters. They take someone else's opinion and make it there own without seeing it for themselves. Critics should all drop dead, instead of looking at a peice of work as it is they compare it to something that they've seen. To the critics and Tony voter I say this Broadway shows aren't just for Broadway people, Broadway is for everyone. Theatre is a reflection of life. I've seen the show many many times and if you really want to know the things that went wrong I can tell you.

Anonymous said...

To Anonymous of June 18, I can't support your fatwa against critics but I totally agree that Broadway is for everyone. We may not all agree about which shows we like but I think just about everyone who reads this blog (and certainly the person who writes it) loves theater and wants to see shows do well. And I bet we'd all love to have you share what you know about what went wrong with the poor Pirate Queen.

Anonymous said...


A STAR STUDDED benefit performance of Tim Rice, Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus' Chess, produced by Brian Michael Purcell, slated for The Ford Amphitheatre, September 17th, 2007, will raise funds for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.

The show, which centers around a chess championship involving an American and a Russian, will feature musical direction by Dan Redfield (Little Women) and choreography by A.C. Ciulla (Footloose, Tony nomination).

The concert will star Tony-nominee Susan Egan (Beauty and the Beast, Cabaret, Triumph of Love), Kevin Earley (Thoroughly Modern Millie, Les Miserables), Cindy Robinson (Into The Woods, Carousel, Peter Pan), Thomas Griffith (The Best Little Whorehouse Texas, 1776 at Hollywood Bowl), Tom Schmid (Annie Get Your Gun, The Last Empress) and Matthew Morrison (The Light in the Piazza, Hairspray tour, 10 Million Miles). The concert will be presented in honor of director and choreographer Jim Alexander, who passed away on May 25th. Alexander was the former Producing Artistic Director of Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma. He received numerous awards and critical acclaim for his productionsof West Side Story, Song and Dance, The Pirates of Penzance, A Chorus Line, Evita, Godspell, The World Goes ‘Round, Man of La Mancha, An Inspector Calls, Always...Patsy Cline, Peter Pan, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Die Fledermaus, Guys and Dolls, Fiddler on The Roof and Jesus Christ Superstar. He had most recently directed Song and Dance: Tell Me on a Sunday, starring his wife, Cindy Robinson, which opened on February 24th 2007 in The Deaf West Theatre in North Hollywood. He was also the Founder and CEO of The Quest Theatre Company.

Producer Purcell wrote: "After the show that night (Song and Dance) we all went out for dinner and Jim and I started talkintalking about the theatre business. It was like I was talking with another me. In the midst of our conversation Jim brings up that the next show he wanted to produce which was Chess. Originally, Jim had talked to me about playing Freddie opposite Cindy in the production and I was very much interested. I also told him that I have a production company and why don’t we co-produce. He became very interested.

We came to an agreement about ideas for the cast, the look and concept of the show, etc. For the next month we had numerous lunch and phone meetings, we even looked at the Ford Amphitheatre in Hollywood and fell in love with space and put a hold on it. Everything was going smoothly and the collaboration was on. I felt like we had been working with each other for years....(On the morning I learned that) Jim Alexander had suffered a fatal heart attack, I was speechless and cried for hours. I had not only lost a partner and mentor but a close friend. I could not even imagine how Cindy was feeling. But out of the darkest moments must come the light. I drove to the Ford that morning and put down the deposit for the show. I pulled myself as an actor out of the show and now I was in Jim’s shoes as Director and Producer. This is what Jim wanted and what he lived for. So there was no way I was not going to put this show on. It had meaning before being a fund raiser for BCEFA, Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, but now it has even more meaning and heart! We are doing this in the memory of Jim Alexander husband, father, friend, producer, director and mentor to everyone he met."

More information will be announced at a later date.

For Media contact:
Publicist:Sheryl Mandel


Anonymous said...

The musical director's name is spelled Dan Redfeld, not "Redfield" for future reference.

Anonymous said...


The New Rock Theatrical
...that will make you sweat!!!

Written by
Douglas Crawford
Ty Taylor
Jason Wooten

An Exclusive West Coast Premiere
Concert Presentation

Monday, October 8th, 2007 9:00PM
At the Legendary Whisky A Go Go

On the Sunset Strip
For Ticket Info: www.whiskyagogo.com
Box Office: 310-652-4202

Ty Taylor(RockStar:INXS)
Eden Espinosa(Wicked)
Jason Wooten(We Will Rock You)
Carly Thomas-Smith(Rent)
Douglas Crawford(Jersey Boys)
Kyle Lowder(Bold &The Beautiful)
Deandra Williams(aka Countre Black)

A live, rock-n-roll theatrical experience about the life of a rock-n-roll band. A "VH-1: Behind the Music"-esque formula to tell the story of a fictitious band, "The Existents", and their incredible and almost immediate climb to music superstardom. Along the way, the very dynamics that brought them to success, tears them apart, eventually, leading to tragedy.

Rock-n-roll music using rock-n-roll mediums to tell a rock-n-roll story. The show, however, is also about life - any individual life. The characters that make up "The Existents" represent the archetypes that comprise any one's existence. By using a band as a metaphor for a single human life, the writers are able to examine from creation to death the intricate challenges and lessons that make us who we are.

The Creatives and Performers

DOUGLAS CRAWFORD (Book/Additional Lyrics) Broadway: Tommy Tune’s revival of Grease! (Kenickie). Jersey Boys 1st National Tour. Recently, Douglas filmed and recorded Jesus Christ Superstar: One Night Only portraying Peter alongside Ted Neeley, Ben Vereen, and Jack Black, among others in Hollywood. He received an LA Robby Award nomination (Best Actor/Musical) for Michael Butler’s 30th Anniversary revival of Hair (Claude), and won for his performance in Lies & Legends... In Las Vegas, he's created roles in the American premieres of, both, We Will Rock You (Pop) and Notre Dame de Paris(Quasimodo). Regionally: Romeo & Juliet, Into the Woods, The Threepenny Opera, and Ben Hur. Film & TV: Born on the Fourth of July, Sunset Beach, Lincs, City Guys, VH-1 Behind the Music, The Tonight Show, & The Tony Awards. Douglas is co-author of the screenplay High Grade Resolution and is, currently, developing the television series The Wallyrus Show.

TY TAYLOR (Book/Music/Lyrics) Recently starred on CBS’ mega series Rockstar: INXS.(CD/DVD) and Chess The Musical AIDS Benefit. He’s a singer/songwriter/producer and is honored to have been the only African-American to play the title role in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat on Broadway (CD). Broadway/Nat’l: We Will Rock You, Grease, Songs for a New World(CD), and The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber Concert with Michael Crawford and Sarah Brightman. Top 10 hits – Dakota Moon/Elektra Records and has been on the road and shared stages with Eric Clapton, Tina Turner, Fiona Apple, Macy Gray, Dave Nevarro, Jerry Cantrell, Slash, Brian May . He wrote/arranged/produced the acclaimed children’s CD “I’m Ready.” Commercials. Jingles. Television. Carnegie-Mellon graduate. He's is currently working on his solo CD with producer, Oliver Lieber and his song, "My Song" scores much of the Olympic promotional commercials.

JASON WOOTEN (Book) – Was blessed to have fronted the band Queen, as well as members of Extreme, Deep Purple, Blue Oyster Cult and Toto. Broadway :The Bob Dylan/Twyla Tharp production, The Times They Are A Changin'; The Rocky Horror Show Live! where he played Riff Raff, Eddie and Doctor Scott; Jesus Christ Superstar (Simon); Footloose (Bickle); and Dance of the Vampires. He recently starred as Galileo Figaro in the American premiere of We Will Rock You in Las Vegas. Along with The Existents, Jason has authored works ranging from animated pictures and screenplays to musical comedies and plays.

Eden Espinosa (currently starring as "Elphaba" in "Wicked", here, in L.A.) One of Broadway's biggest rising stars, is thrilled to be a part of bringing THE EXISTENTS to Southern California, where she was born and raised. She has performed the role of Elphaba in "Wicked" to critical acclaim on Broadway, as well as the San Francisco stop on the national tour, and originating the role in the, current, L.A. production. She created the title character in Brooklyn, the Musical and performed it from the original workshop on through its Broadway run. You may have heard her on such recordings as Hair (BC/EFA benefit recording), The Maury Yeston Songbook; Bright Lights, Big City; and John McDaniel Live at Joe’s Pub.

Kyle Lowder (star of CBS' "The Bold & The Beautiful")Originally from St. Louis, Missouri, moved with his family to the east coast when he was three years old. Growing up thirty miles from New York City in Westchester County gave Kyle the opportunity to be affected by the performing arts at a very young age. An actor, singer, model and soap opera superstar, Kyle was cast as Brady Black on the NBC Daytime Drama series, Days of our Lives, a role that would later bring him a Daytime Emmy nomination and Soap Opera Digest Award win in 2003. With the popularity that ensued, Kyle performed the National Anthem for Major League Baseball and NBA games at venues including Dodger Stadium and Staples Center. Although a busy schedule prevented Kyle from fully pursuing any endeavors outside the show, he continued with his vocal training on a weekly basis. In the summer of 2005, Kyle decided to end his fulfilling run on Days of our Lives and put a hold on his acting career in order focus fully on a career in music. After more than a year away from the spotlight, and his music career up and running, Kyle was ready to make a return to television. Kyle Lowder can be currently seen starring as Rick Forrester on the CBS Daytime Drama, The Bold and the Beautiful - the most watched television show in the world! Kyle is thrilled to combine his love for theatre and rock-n-roll as a member of THE EXISTENTS in concert at the Whisky A Go Go.

Carly Thomas-Smith (previously "Maureen" in "Rent" on Broadway) Hailing from the Twin Cities area in Minnesota, Singer-Songwriter-Actress Carly Thomas-Smith grew up surrounded by the rich musical legacy of the Minneapolis Sound. She learned the ropes in the Minneapolis club scene, soaking up the influences of local artists, especially the dynamic vocalist Debbie Duncan. While still a teen, she put together her own band and landed a regular gig at a jazz club. Taking advantage of all the Twin Cities had to offer, Carly also cut her teeth on the stage, being cast in many local theatrical productions. At 17, she moved to New York to attend Sarah Lawrence College on a music scholarship where she studied vocal performance and theatre with some of the most esteemed teachers and artists from Manhattan. After graduating from Sarah Lawrence, Carly settled in New York City and performed at such prestigious venues as Birdland, the Rainbow Room and The Plaza, just to mention a few. Her career shifted gears when she was cast in the Broadway production of the Tony Award winning musical RENT. As an active member in the Broadway community, Carly proudly became a member of the acclaimed Broadway Inspirational Voices, a gospel choir comprised of Broadway singers, and performed with them at several marquee events, including the Tony Awards. Seeking sunnier climates and broader career opportunities, she relocated to Los Angeles, CA. In L.A., Carly solidified her place in the entertainment industry as a singer, actress, and songwriter. Her television appearances include 'Friends', 'Two and a Half Men', 'Enterprise', and 'Deadline'. She returned to the stage in 2004 as one of the leads in the U.S. premiere of the musical 'We Will Rock You', based on the music of Queen. As a vocalist, she’s performed with Patti Austin, Ali “Ollie” Woodson of the Temptations, Phil Perry and Tamyra Gray, as well as many local artists and corporate bands. She had the honor of being seen and heard on the Grammy nominated live CD/DVD 'Don Grusin’s: The Hang', performing with a group of legendary jazz musicians including Dave and Don Grusin, Lee Ritenour and Harvey Mason. As a budding songwriter, Carly was blessed to place 'In Time', a song she performed and co-wrote with the talented William Hanford Lee (aka Papalee), in the movie 'Hustle & Heat' starring Vivica A. Fox. Currently, she’s performing at private events, awaiting the festival premiere of 'A Detective Story', a film she recently wrapped, and planting seeds for her upcoming recording project. Carly has, proudly, been a part of THE EXISTENTS since the begining!

Deandra Williams a.k.a. Countre Black was born and raised in Jacksonville, FL. To two hard working parents. "I've been singing since I could talk and I grew up seeing so much that I always had something to write about. Most of my songs derive from things that I really been through. My mother found a few of my raps and threw them out - she felt like I was throwing her business in the streets. I saw and lived so much. It became my music. I moved out when I turned 18, stacked up my change and kept writing. My music is my HEART; I stayed in the STUDIO, and even did a tour with 95 south. They gave me my first shot. One night, a few years ago, this dude followed me home and tried to kill to me. I fought hard as I could and screamed for help. The police caught him and discovered he had killed three women. I was blessed. That's when I really started to go for it. I figure I'm here for a reason. I hit California and its been popping ever since. I've collaborated with a few well-known artists and it's been a blessing. Get ready World, I'm here now, and thrilled to be making history at the Whisky A Go Go as the newest member of THE EXISTENTS family!"


Cast Available for Interviews!!!
For Press Comps
Please Email:
Sheryl Mandel
Integrity Publicity

lzigman@comcast.net said...

A friend and I were fortunate in seeing "The Pirate Queen" on its premiere opening night at Ford Theater. It was a superior performance, and received a very long standing ovation. I agree with those who are bitter about critics making or breaking a show. This one should have had a very long run, and been enjoyed by multitudes of people who enjoy the shows on Broadway. My friend and I are thankful that we were able to see its premiere. Living in Vermont I was unable to see it a second (or third) time.
I also agree with the comment that Broadway shows should be available on DVDs. Those of us who do not live in the city cannot spend all our time traveling to NYC to see shows. As one person noted it would put monies back into the costs of production and the cast of shows which close down.

jan@broadwayandme said...

lzigman, thanks for tracking down this old post, reading it and commenting too! I hope you'll continue to read B&Me and share more of your thoughts. Cheers, jan