Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Off Broadway Musical

While I am always happy to see original, innovative musicals succeed Off Broadway, I’ve been a lot less happy in the past few seasons to see how such shows fare once they’ve been moved to Broadway. For a long time, now, Off Broadway has been a formidable presence on the scene (Hair, anyone? A Chorus Line? Rent?), but lately, I’ve been concerned about the growing pressure being put on smaller shows to strike it big on Broadway. Last year, two shows that did well Off Broadway, only to fail to click with Broadway audiences, were the weird and wonderful Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson and the misunderstood Scottsboro Boys; the sublime Passing Strange suffered a similar fate a few seasons back.

Whether these shows actually belonged on Broadway is certainly a matter of debate, but I like the fact that smaller-scale producers keep on trying with smaller-scale, innovative productions. If Off Broadway stops exerting pressure on Broadway, then Broadway will be a far less interesting place for it. So I am rooting for the tiny
Lysistrata Jones not only to make it uptown, but to do so with at least some of its wild and wonderful Judson spirit intact. If it does, it’ll be one more small step for Off Broadway, and one more giant step for the future of the original musical.

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