Saturday, October 06, 2007

Showbiz Showdown in Gotham — Little Tops Go to War ... Broadway’s Big Guns Test Troubled Tuners on Rocky Road ...Will South Pacific Soar Again?

What a lip-smacking good season looms ahead for surly sideliners like me ... A neat preview in the New York Times spills beans on two mega musicals failing to turn gush from out-of-town critics, both Broadway-bound shows flashing powerhouse names: Mel Brooks (The Producers) is back — or hacking back with his latest home-made tuner (in which he concocts his own tunes) — Young Frankenstein, now polishing his cakewalk out of town. The singing monster failed to ring every critic’s rattle in Seattle. Hmmmm. I wonder if Brooks, an amateurish tunesmith, is a one-score kind of guy? Brooks revived musical comedy. Question might be, can he revive vaudeville?

Disney’s Drowning Mermaid? Trouble in kiddie land began when Tarzan flew to Broadway and got all tangled up in a lot of scenery and — more scenery. Public not charmed. First Disney flop, that. ... Here comes the next?... Mermaid’s first dip under water in Denver nearly capsized, hardly rescued by a scathing pan from Variety’s man on-the-spot. Local critics, kinder, although some harboring same mouth-dropping reservations. Lifeguard, please! ... What shocks me is to read of a dozen new songs composed by Alan Menken, who also scored the movie with his late great partner Howard Ashman. They delivered a wondrous set of songs, so why all these add-ons? A glut of melody suggests an over-wrought script signifying too big a pool, or just plain professional desperation.

Nobody stands tall forever on the Great White Way. Forty-Second Street minus another Disney blockbuster could spell the return of the garden variety porno that thrived where George M. Cohan once sang before Beauty and the Beast arrived .... Beauty, by the way, is gone — as all of you trend-setters who read this blog (well, all five of you out there) will smugly know.

Circus! Didn’t mean to slight the war of the big tops. Big Apple uncorks its latest, a 30th anni bash at Lincoln Center, and not too far down Broadway comes about the same time that monster Genius from north of the border. Cirque du Soliel’s latest, Wintuk something about a young man in search of something, moves into the theatre at Madison Square Garden for a long run largely overlapping Big Apple’s. And the same show is slated to run for 10 weeks each winter the next five years! ... Garden big shots, unenchanted of late with Ringless brothers in free fall, had been angling for a slice of the Montreal magic. ... Anybody care to remember when the Big One sometimes packed ‘em in during five- and six - week seasons at the old bold Garden?

Post Update Flash: That's not all, folks! Here comes the gifted ringmaster (formerly of Universoul Circus) -- Casual Cal onto the stage of the Apollo in Harlem, beginning November 23, with his brand new Get Your Circus On! Promises a wild mix of acrobats and illusionists, and a 75-year-old "rapping Granny." Proclaims Cal, "Soul is not a color. It's a collection of experiences to start the heart, speak to emotions, and move on." New Yorkers, take note and move on: You have options.

South Pacific to be revived , finally, for the first time since it wowed ‘em back in ‘49. That does it. I’ve got Damtrak reservations. How could I miss all this drama, even if half of it folds by the time I ge there. That is, if Damtrak arrives at all ... New York! New York! Whether I get there are not, you’re a helluva town!

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