Friday, December 08, 2006

Yeh! It's a Flop

Not everything should be a musical.

I'm 2 for 2. I was rooting for both the Bob Dylan musical and High Fidelity musicals to be unmitigated flops and it looks like my little Broadway voodoo dolls work afterall. The Dylan musical went down in flames back in October when audiences and reviewers finally realized that "Forever Young" doesn't work with "jazz hands".

Now, it looks like the musical for Nick Hornby's High Fidelity is going to suffer the same fate. Check out the review in the NY Times of last night's premiere:

A new musical is said to have opened last night on Broadway. I mean, I saw it. Or I think I did. It’s called, uh, wait a minute, it’ll come to me. Got it! “High Fidelity.” And if I close my eyes and concentrate really hard, I just might be able to describe a show that erases itself from your memory even as you watch it.


Of course “High Fidelity” presents a special problem to those who would convert it into a musical. How could any composer, aiming for a mainstream audience, hope to come up with a score that would pass muster with its own cool-conscious, musically exacting characters? Mr. Kitt (who worked on “Urban Cowboy” and “Debbie Does Dallas”) has responded by throwing a lot of watered-down pop and rock elements (heavy metal power chords, folkie acoustic guitar, R&B riffs and tinkly romantic piano) into a pot and hoping they congeal.

As a consequence the songs never acquire body or precision, even as satire. (Though there’s a mildly funny hip-hop revenge fantasy, sequences in which Neil Young and Bruce Springsteen materialize in Rob’s imagination feel like high-school follies routines.)


And while Mr. Lindsay-Abaire, the talented author of “Rabbit Hole” and “Fuddy Meers,” has incorporated most of the story line and many of the choicer details from the book, he inserts them almost randomly, as if desperately checking off a roster of what has to be included. The lists by which Rob tries to make sense of his life — Top 5 Break-Ups, Top 5 Things I Miss About Laura — are not so much integrated as simply included.


Still, “High Fidelity” definitely deserves a place in my own catalog of Top 5 lists. That would be on the roster of All-Time Most Forgettable Musicals. Now if only I could remember the names of the others.
Ouch. It should be gone within a week or two. Christmas came a little early this year.


jds said...

I don't care about indie credibility:
I saw the Billy Joel musical Moving Out during its first month back in '02 and was totally blown away. I completely see why it is Broadway's longest running dance musical. And see why folks have jumped on the bandwagon.
I was far from a willing participant, but found myself singing "Uptown Girl" for months afterwords. And I had NO idea how many Billy Joel songs I knew until I saw that thing. That man is a hit machine!

Flatlander said...

Oh, I think there are bands that have catalogs that would convert to Broadway. Styx, Elton John and Duran Duran come to mind.

However, like I said, not everything should be a musical. Was anyone really clamoring for a Broadway version of Dylan's "Visions of Joanna"?

found_drama said...

Ugh. Would I be showing my hand too much if I stated that a mash-up of Bob Dylan and Broadway would go on my "crimes against humanity" list?

jay said...

I have no idea why anyone could have thought these would have been a good idea in the first place.

Oh yeah--name recognition.