by Margaret Croyden
Margaret Croyden is a theater reviewer and essayist for the New York Theatre Wire.
When "Finian's Rainbow" opened on Broadway at the beginning of the season, (October 2009) "The Wall Street Journal" critic wrote: "I don't think I've ever seen a more musically satisfying Broadway show than "Finian's Rainbow." Variety called it "an infectious charmer," "The New York Times" called it "a joyous revival."
And so it was established, one thought, that we had a real big hit on our hands early in the season: the revival of the 1940's Yip Harburg-Burton Lane's masterpiece, "Finian's Rainbow". But it soon closed after a few months, leaving most people surprised and horrified that a hit show with unanimous terrific notices would close after a few months.
Everyone bemoaned the fact, stories were written about the closing night but no one knew what had happened. Why would a show with those kind of notices close after just a few months. In fact it followed "Ragtime" which closed about the same time. ("Ragtime" got good notices too} What was happening to the popular musical if a mighty show with a delectable score would close and a stupid show like "Mama Mia" is still running. Is the public to blame, are they really that dumb? Maybe. Or are the producers scared to death to do real satire musical without Hollywood or TV stars? What happened to promotions, to P. R. for these shows. What were the producers thinking? Why did they not have the nerve or the MONEY to go on? Nobody really knew the answer. But the main idea was that it had no Hollywood names or television stars and this is what sells today. So is the public so dumb that they only want to see their silly TV stars on stage or what? Or are the producers to blame who only look for the bottom line. Or is it the cheesy atmosphere of Broadway? I let you all decide.
Margaret Croyden's new book "The Years In Between: a Reporter's Journey: World War II--the Cold War" will be published in the Spring.
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