Talking turkeys: bombs on stage

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The New York Times today reports on a revival of “Moose Murders”—considered by many to be the worst play ever staged on Broadway. (See Frank Rich’s original review, here.)

While New Yorkers will often pay as much attention to their failures as their successes, out here in the Heartland, we seem to try our best to either forget or deny our duds.

Maybe that’s the polite thing to do. But the reality is that, sometimes, productions go bad. And audiences know it. Acknowledging these turkeys, I think, helps patrons move on to the next show with hope for something better.

My belief: If you are repeatedly told that shows are terrific when you know they aren’t, you are more likely to give up on performing arts altogether.

So let’s air some dirty laundry (it’s what arts folks do when they’ve had a few drinks anyway).

What’s the worst thing you’ve ever seen on stage, here or elsewhere? Name names if you like. Don’t if you don’t. But share something about your experiences with awful operas, disastrous dance, and theatrics that thudded.

For starters, let me mention a few I witnessed:

–“Marlowe,” the Broadway musical in which Christopher Marlowe and William Shakespeare get high with pot that Sir Walter Raleigh scored from Pocahontas.

–“Eyes,” the cringe-inducing local adaptation of Zora Neale Hurston’s novel “Their Eyes Were Watching God.” (Hard to forget the rabid-dog-attack sequence.)

–“Kaddish for Rubenstein,” a Philadelphia production of a black comedy set during the Holocaust that cribbed from everything from “Cabaret” to “Max Headroom.” One critic called it “Theatrical vomit.” Many of us in the cast—yes, I was in it—agreed.

Your thoughts?

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