pixeltracker

Is "gentle" theater gone forever?

Is "gentle" theater gone forever?

CurtainsUpat8 Profile Photo
CurtainsUpat8
#1Is "gentle" theater gone forever?
Posted: 5/19/24 at 5:41pm

I went to the theater today. I saw Just Another Day at Theatre 555 on 42nd and 11th

It was written by Dan Luria, of The Wonder Years fame.  It was a two hander, and also starred Patty MacCormick, who was the little girl in the movie of The Bad Seed. I have to say The Bad Seed is one of my favorite movies. She was brilliant in the movie. She also played the role on Broadway.  She was nominated for an Oscar for the movie.

It was a sweet, gentle piece of theater and I enjoyed it very much. Was it groundbreaking, brilliant theater? No, it wasn't. But it was a perfectly valid play that I would be proud to have written.  The two performances were wonderful. Absolutely wonderful. As good as I have seen on Broadway anytime.

One of the last shows I saw was Tuesdays with Morrie starring Len Cariou.  It was the best performance I have seen in years. It was sublime.  Yes, the play is a little corny. But so what?  It's also very well written and another play I'd be proud to say I wrote.

Neither of these shows is on anyone's radar. Did anyone see either of these shows?  There is no room for these shows on Broadway. They are considered Old fashioned. 

Are these type of shows over?  I hope not, because they are better than anything I have seen on Broadway lately. Everything is loud and over amplified. The shows are geared towards the lowest common denominator. I could go on and on with detail.  It's not the first time it's been discussed here.

Who ruined Broadway?   Because it is ruined. In many, many ways. I have been going since the 70's.
Ill tell you one thing that ruined Broadway... tictock and other social media.  I'm not looking for snarky comments like "then don't go"... yeah, I can do that.  But Broadway is a mess whether you want to believe it or not.

 

Updated On: 5/20/24 at 05:41 PM

dramamama611 Profile Photo
dramamama611
#2Is "gentle" theater gone forever?
Posted: 5/19/24 at 5:49pm

Oh, good God. I've been going to theater since the seventies too. No, Broadway not ruined. It's different.  Everything changes, and that's not a bad thing. TV isn't the same, movies aren't the same.

 

Thank goodness. 


If we're not having fun, then why are we doing it? These are DISCUSSION boards, not mutual admiration boards. Discussion only occurs when we are willing to hear what others are thinking, regardless of whether it is alignment to our own thoughts.

Lavieboheme3090 Profile Photo
Lavieboheme3090
#3Is "gentle" theater gone forever?
Posted: 5/19/24 at 5:59pm

You saw show that you enjoyed today. Why should it matter if it is specifically in of the 40 theaters in midtown. 
 

If you enjoy the programming you saw, support that theater…

Wick3 Profile Photo
Wick3
#4Is "gentle" theater gone forever?
Posted: 5/19/24 at 6:41pm

It can go to Broadway but in order to sell tickets and recoup, they'll most likely have to replace one of the leads with an A-List celebrity.

spicemonkey
#5Is "gentle" theater gone forever?
Posted: 5/19/24 at 6:50pm

“Everything is loud and over amplified”
 

although I do agree that things have changed in 40 years (why wouldn’t they?)

 

I could still find some broadway shows that are not loud not over amplified. For example: The Sound Inside (MLP’s performance specifically, subtly amazing) , A Doll’s House (Jessica Chastain, similarly). Even in this season, Mary Jane (Rachel McAdams just reminded me of MLP), etc.

 

not everything can or should go to Broadway. I’m not eligible to speak about the 70s, but I guess back then not every show was similar to the example you provided.

HogansHero Profile Photo
HogansHero
#6Is "gentle" theater gone forever?
Posted: 5/19/24 at 7:03pm

Although there can will likely always be "gentle" shows, it is flawed to suggest that all shows in the part were. Were [Miller, O'Neill, Williams, Albee ... ] ever accused of being gentle? For the most part, the theatre aspires to be more than that, and always has. (Was Medea gentle?)

ErmengardeStopSniveling Profile Photo
ErmengardeStopSniveling
#7Is "gentle" theater gone forever?
Posted: 5/19/24 at 7:16pm

"Gentle theater" IS trying to appeal to a low common denominator: populist, middlebrow plays, sometimes nostalgic, with the aim of appealing to middle-aged-and-older people (usually white) who say "oh that's nice". Sometimes written to make idiots feel smart, sometimes not, but rarely written to be provocative or with the aim of winning awards.

One could argue that STEREOPHONIC fits the above description! And that's a great play that's about to win a bunch of Tonys and propel some great young actors to stardom.

I would classify all of the following Broadway plays from the past decade as such:

  1. Pictures From Home (flop)
  2. Goodnight Oscar (financial performance unknown but did better than most of these)
  3. The Shark is Broken (flop)
  4. I Need That (nonprofit)
  5. Grand Horizons (nonprofit)
  6. Plaza Suite (recouped)
  7. Jaja's African Hair Braiding (nonprofit)
  8. Fat Ham (flop)
  9. Chicken & Biscuits (flop)
  10. Significant Other (flop)
  11. Birthday Candles (nonprofit)
  12. Clyde's (nonprofit)
  13. Lifespan of a Fact (recouped)
  14. POTUS (flop)
  15. The Country House (nonprofit)
  16. Our Mother's Brief Affair (nonprofit)
  17. Linda Vista (nonprofit)
  18. The Nap (nonprofit)
  19. Mothers & Sons (flop)
  20. Sylvia (flop)
  21. Living On Love (flop)
  22. Outside Mullingar (nonprofit)
  23. Love Letters (flop)
  24. a number of Best Play winners from the 2000s to 2010s
  25. Left on Tenth (coming soon and I smell a flop)

These type of plays have always been –– and will always be –– a staple of nonprofit regionals, community and educational theaters. On Golden Pond, The Gin Game, a lot of Neil Simon and A.R. Gurney plays, etc. There will always be a place for plays like that, as there will always be Woody Allen-style films, but Broadway might not be the place for most of them.

veronicamae Profile Photo
veronicamae
#8Is "gentle" theater gone forever?
Posted: 5/19/24 at 7:43pm

i'll be sure to stay off your lawn, OP

jagman106
#9Is
Posted: 5/19/24 at 8:18pm

I disagree that Broadway is ruined forever. In regard to "gentle plays," I'm not quite sure what you mean with that description, but this season had a slew of good plays that were mostly well-received that I don't consider "brutish." Good theater is good theater regardless of where it plays. There is a niche for every style of production, and I don't find a dearth of Broadway shows to attend, also having attended theater since the 70s. Further, in those 50 years of theater-going, I can think of a number of commercially-produced plays that I saw over the years that may qualify under your "gentle plays" description, but were not necessarily well-received, nor did they last long. Off the top of my head:

Broken Glass

The Young Man From Atlanta

Mixed Emotions

The Twilight of the Golds

Any Given Day

The Ride Down Mt. Morgan

Rose with Glenda Jackson and Jessica Tandy

Is He Dead?

Rose with Olympia Dukakis (different show, same title)

Sacrilege

Match

Honour

Impressionism

The Herbal Garden

I know there are many others, so the appeal of "gentle plays" has not necessarily diminished as there is a history of "gentle plays" that demonstrates many of them did not meet with much success on Broadway.

Updated On: 5/19/24 at 08:18 PM

BrodyFosse123 Profile Photo
BrodyFosse123
#10Is "gentle" theater gone forever?
Posted: 5/19/24 at 8:53pm

 


Charley Kringas Inc Profile Photo
Charley Kringas Inc
#11Is "gentle" theater gone forever?
Posted: 5/19/24 at 9:14pm

If I’m paying out the ass to see a show on Broadway, I want something more than an amiable little diversion to twiddle my thumbs at.

Kad Profile Photo
Kad
#12Is "gentle" theater gone forever?
Posted: 5/19/24 at 10:30pm

These sort of plays often have rich lives being produced by regional and community theaters nationwide. Broadway is just the tip of the American theatre iceberg. Yes, it’s influential and often influences seasons throughout the country- but ultimately, it’s these type of shows that are most cost effective and appealing for audiences in markets outside of big cities. 


"...everyone finally shut up, and the audience could enjoy the beginning of the Anatevka Pogram in peace."

muscle23ftl Profile Photo
muscle23ftl
#13Is "gentle" theater gone forever?
Posted: 5/19/24 at 11:45pm

Curtains, can you give me a synopsis of the play with Dan Lauria?

I do agree that Broadway and NYC have both been ruined lately.  I have faith that some good shows will come up eventually. Both Harmony and Lempicka were the only non movies/non jukebox shows and people didn't buy tickets to see them. Not saying they were the best shows ever, but they both deserved a longer run in my point of view. The shows and the casting choices are really bad lately. Awful.


"People have their opinions and that doesn't mean that their opinions are wrong or right. I just take it with a grain of salt because opinions are like as*holes, everyone has one". -Felicia Finley-

Jordan Catalano Profile Photo
Jordan Catalano
#14Is "gentle" theater gone forever?
Posted: 5/19/24 at 11:51pm

I saw “Just Another Day” last week and hadn’t thought of it again until I opened this thread. A very forgettable play with two decent performances that in no way made me want to run home and write about it online. As for “Morrie”, I feel like a lot of people were talking about it. Maybe not here but I saw lots of praise for it and Cariou, especially who was absolutely wonderful in it. 

Ravenclaw
#15Is "gentle" theater gone forever?
Posted: 5/20/24 at 3:31am

I'm not going to claim that Broadway is ruined, but I do think it's a fair point to note that the trend has been toward bigger, flashier, higher-stakes affairs. I think that "pretty good" is not good enough to justify the price of a Broadway ticket for most audiences, so everything must be the biggest, the best, the loudest, the fastest, etc., and for those of us who make it a priority to see a lot of work, that can get exhausting, and pieces (usually found off-Broadway or regionally) which only try to give audiences a pleasant time can feel like a relief. I've seen a lot of shows recently that seem to be doing everything they can to hold onto the audience's attention at every moment--every song involves the leading lady belting in the stratosphere, the lights don't stay in one cue longer than 10-15 seconds, video projections running behind the actors the entire time, and the book forces in a punchline every 30 seconds like clockwork. I have enjoyed some of these bombastic shows immensely, but I also want to see Broadway be a home for pieces which put a little more trust in their audience and find value in small, beautiful moments.

CurtainsUpat8 Profile Photo
CurtainsUpat8
#16Is
Posted: 5/20/24 at 9:10am

thank you the people that took my post seriously.

Let me say this... going to Broadway, for ME, is like flying.  Its stressful, expensive, there are extra charges, there are people scrambling for seats.. no legroom....an often a bad movie to watch.  What once was special, elegant experience is now a free for all.

Broadway is the same. It is ruined. I don't care if anyone agrees with me. It's a disaster.

To the person who felt like they had to judge my opinion of the show I saw.... You post constantly here. No one really needs to read your opinion on every single topic. Maybe give it a break one time. You didn't like the show I liked. So what? You only prove my point.

Yes theater is changing. But is it evolving? Is is the art form building on it's past to move forward? Change is inevitable but what kind of change? It's unraveling. It's not moving forward.

Updated On: 5/20/24 at 09:10 AM

MrsSallyAdams Profile Photo
MrsSallyAdams
#17Is "gentle" theater gone forever?
Posted: 5/20/24 at 9:40am

Neil Simon used to be the champion of commercially successful domestic comedy (and dramedy) playwrights. I'm not sure his level of economic success could exist again in this environment. I suspect gentle playwrights today usually go to regional theaters or write for streaming sitcoms.  


threepanelmusicals.blogspot.com

GiantsInTheSky2 Profile Photo
GiantsInTheSky2
#18Is
Posted: 5/20/24 at 10:16am

How about you just enjoy off-Broadway as that seems to be more up your alley? “Gentle” theatre exists all over the world. It doesn’t *need* to be on Broadway. 

What is the point of this post? “Ah Broadway is ruined” cool, what an original thought that no one has ever said before. Super helpful to your cause. 

Broadway is expensive. People aren’t willing to pay these prices unless the product is impactful in one way or another. The things you’re describing don’t make enough money to be sustainable on Broadway. They can, and do, survive elsewhere.


I am big. It’s the REVIVALS that got small.
Updated On: 5/20/24 at 10:16 AM

pair-o-dice
#19Is
Posted: 5/20/24 at 1:46pm

Oh fun - the conversation that has been happening since Day One of Broadway.  For every gentle show, for every hit, for every megahit...each season there are tons of flops that have been forgotten (since the beginning of Broadway).  Each decade brings about its own trends and people bitching about them.  I remember when I moved to the city and everyone was complaining that Andrew Lloyd Webber and Cameron Mackintosh had ruined Broadway.  Now its Tik Tok. Come back in 10 years and I'm sure it will be something else.  Video killed the radio star...

 

CurtainsUpat8 Profile Photo
CurtainsUpat8
#20Is "gentle" theater gone forever?
Posted: 5/20/24 at 2:29pm

No, this conversation has not been going on since the beginning of Broadway. Read about what was going on in the 30's and the 40's and the 50's and even the 60's. Kids call it the Golden Age. You are damned right it was the Golden Age. Because the decline really started in the 70's and ballooned with CATS and the Andrew Lloyd Weber crap. 

It has been getting progressively worse. Someone posted, and I am paraphrasing,  This is such a boring thread and subject, We all know Broadway is ruined.   Or....  We expect to see a big production for the money!!!....,   ill just throw this in... Wicked is one of the worst musicals I have ever seen. I have some great songs in the show to listen to, but the show is  a mess. Yet, it has been running for decades.

These sentiments are proving my point. 

Let me get back to Len Cariou in Tuesdays with Morrie and share this story. Len Cariou is a theatrical legend. He is a Broadway legend. If this play had starred Patti Lupone, the theatre world would have been wild. I think Len Cariou has just as an impressive career as Patti LuPone. And I think he is a better performer than Patti Lupone... yet...  the NY Times didn't even review this.   When the awards come out is Len's name going to be mentioned?   The award Sarah Paulson just won... the Drama League.... Len Cariou was not a nominee. His performance was worthy,   I wrote to a prominent critic to as if they would be reviewing the show..I was very polite and was writing as a fan.

I got a response...  The critic was busy and would find time but they disliked the play very much so they didn't think it was of interest. I was grateful I got a response. Yet, disturbed by the answer. Not that the person was super busy, which I don't doubt, and that is a very valid reason... but that the person wouldn't go because they hate the play. That, is not nice. Mr. Cariou deserved better than that. What does it say about the reviewer? 

ErmengardeStopSniveling Profile Photo
ErmengardeStopSniveling
#21Is
Posted: 5/20/24 at 2:53pm

In every era of the American theatre, there will always be those who claim it was better in the past.

In every era of the American theatre, there will always be dreck. The jukebox musical of today is the lowbrow sex farce of prior years.

In every era of the American theatre, there will always be under-the-radar, low-profile productions. Obviously, it was a deliberate choice by the producers to (a) open the show at the busiest time of year, (b) not engage a more powerful press agent to get more critics to attend, and (c) not to whip up attendance from the various awards bodies.

There's also nothing wrong with a critic saying "I don't want to see that" (for any reason), especially for something that's not being produced on Broadway or at a major Off-Bway company. Most of them are paid for a certain number of reviews per year, they have limited time, they have their own interests, and they owe nothing to artists or readers.

If Broadway or Off-Broadway shows aren't being produced in a way that you enjoy, then don't go. Find other hobbies and stop complaining about something that you have no control over. It's nobody's job to appeal to your narrow interests. You sound like a MAGA Republican right now!

Updated On: 5/20/24 at 02:53 PM

BentleyB
#22Is
Posted: 5/20/24 at 6:39pm

This is one of the most self-indulgent threads I have read in years.  Don’t like it, no one is holding a gun to your head making you go see “Wicked” or anything for that matter.  Is the theater like it was when I started going in the early 70’s?  Nope, but I have loved watching the evolution of Broadway over the years.  Have I loved everything?  Nope, but again, I am not the one writing diatribes about it.  

spicemonkey
#23Is
Posted: 5/20/24 at 7:59pm

This post reminds of those two older ladies who refused to stand up after a performance of My Fair Lady, because they felt “it’s gonna take a while, just let us chat a bit” - while half the row is standing and waiting. 

Matt Rogers Profile Photo
Matt Rogers
#24Is
Posted: 5/20/24 at 7:59pm

CurtainsUpat8 said: "thank you the people that took my post seriously.

Let me say this... going to Broadway, for ME, is like flying. Its stressful, expensive, there are extra charges, there are people scrambling for seats.. no legroom....an often a bad movie to watch. What once was special, elegant experience is now a free for all.

Broadway is the same. It is ruined. I don't care if anyone agrees with me. It's a disaster.

To the person who felt like they had to judge my opinion of the show I saw.... You post constantly here. No one really needs to read your opinion on every single topic. Maybe give it a break one time. You didn't like the show I liked. So what? You only prove my point.

Yes theater is changing. But is it evolving? Is is the art form building on it's past to move forward? Change is inevitable but what kind of change? It's unraveling. It's not moving forward.
"

Oh. My. God. 

BWAY Baby2
#25Is
Posted: 5/20/24 at 8:01pm

Mother Play is a hit- so is Mary Jane. The play about Putin's rise to power is still playing- and so is Appropriate. There is plenty of quality theater around. 


Latest Posts



Videos