The 2010-2011 Broadway Musicals – What Shows Will Last?

Looking back at the 2010-2011 Broadway season, it was quite the year for new musicals — 11 new Broadway musicals opened in the 2010-2011. Here’s a list:

2010-2011 Broadway Season:

  • Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown* – Closed January 2nd, 2011
  • Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson ** – Closed January 2nd, 2011
  • The Scottsboro Boys ** – Closed December 12th, 2011
  • Elf* – Closed January 2nd, 2011
  • The Book of Mormon* – Opening March 24th, 2011
  • Priscilla Queen of the Desert ## – Opening March 20th, 2011
  • Catch Me If You Can # – Opening April 10th, 2011
  • Wonderland # – Closed May 15th, 2011
  • Sister Act ## – Opening April 20th, 2011
  • Baby It’s You* – Opening April 27th, 2011
  • The People in the Picture* – Closing June 19th, 2011
* No out-of-town tryout   ** Off-Broadway   # Out-of-town tryout    ##Transfer from London

It’s interesting to note that I knew Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown would never be able to save face after that first awful preview and would not extend (and get generally ignored by the Tony committee). I hope that this show has some life after Broadway, but I’m fearing that most directors will skip this one, since it’s style is extremely unique and it’s an ensemble show that even the likes of Patti Lupone, Sherie Rene Scott, Laura Benanti and Brian Stokes Mitchell couldn’t even save.

After I saw a Sunday matinee performance of Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, it was clear that it should have stuck around Off-Broadway in a small house where it could have gained a cult following. (Listen to the music, here.) Now it’s up to regional theatres to give this show it’s chance to shine. It will become a favorite! Broadway just wasn’t the right place for Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson.

The Scottsboro Boys quickly came and went. Yes, it was moving its subject matter is incredibly important, but the NYC audience couldn’t keep this one afloat. The tourists just weren’t interested (nor was I). It seems that this show has had a Parade-type of fate. It won’t even do well regionally or even among the community theatres. The difficulty of casting and subject matter will keep most theatre companies far away from this piece. I’m interested in seeing it again when it plays A.C.T. in San Francisco next season, but ultimately this is a show that will rarely be seen.

I missed Elf, since it was a limited holiday run. I heard great things about this show — perfect holiday fare. This show will have a seasonal life for many years to come. I still want to hear a cast recording of this show! (Maybe it will come back again for a limited run this holiday season — White Christmas did several times.)

I saw a late preview of The Book of Mormon and knew it was going to be a huge hit and win most of the Tony Awards and that is exactly what it did. I hated the show, but still valued the production qualities. They are some of the best I’ve seen on Broadway in recent years. It will be very interesting to see what and how the regional and community theatres deal with The Book of Mormon’s horribly offensive nature. I bet most theatres won’t have the guts to produce this show. I can only think of 2-3 theatres in the Bay Area that could even remotely touch this piece and it would still be a stretch for two of them. The show will tour and do well, but I highly doubt it will ever be in league of Wicked, Les Miserables or Phantom of the Opera. It’s one thing for a tourist to see this show in New York City, but I doubt many of them will sit and laugh at the same offensive jokes when their friends and neighbors are in the audience. There is a huge South Park fandom, but most of their fans can’t afford the ridiculous prices to see this show.

I had the opportunity to see Priscilla Queen of the Desert in London last June and loved it. I’m hoping it will have a long shelf life — let’s kick out Mamma Mia and keep Priscilla Queen of the Desert because it’s a hellavu lot better. I don’t know how they will continue to sell the Palace Theatre, but I’m hoping they do! You have to see this show for the awesome pop tunes, heartfelt story and incredible Tony-winning costumes. See it, now!

Catch Me If You Can will be around for awhile. It has a recognizable name and tourists will go to it, even though it was one of the longest three hours of my life. I thought it was a major train wreck, but after Norbert Leo Butz won the Tony Award for Best Leading Actor, people will make sure not to miss his performance. Out of the three shows I’ve seen Norbert perform in — The Last Five Years, Wicked, and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels — this performance is my least favorite. I did like some of the music, but the story-telling never packed any emotional punch. I never cared once about any of the characters. While people might see it once, they won’t be back for more.

Wonderland was another show that I didn’t have the opportunity to see since it closed after only 31 previews and 33 performances. I’m not a huge Wildhorn fan and the music is very Wildhorn-esque (big power-pop ballads). I felt that some of the technical areas of the production were very strong. The Tony committee completely snubbed Wonderland — a very strong statement telling Frank Wildhorn he wasn’t welcome on Broadway. I was very surprised because the costumes were spectacular (designed by the same person who designed Wicked) and definitely worthy of a nomination!! This is a show that is going to be a huge hit in the schools, community and regional theatres across the U.S. It’s family-friendly, a story that everyone knows, and includes pop-style music that people will love. This show is going to be the new Suessical. A total flop on Broadway but a star in the musical theatre world outside of New York City. Just you watch!

Sister Act will be on Broadway for awhile. It will tour; it will be produced all over America and the stage musical will become a house-hold name. The music, by Alan Menken, is fantastic; the story is fun and engaging and you can’t get much better than a stage full of singing nuns belting their faces off! I loved it in London and I can’t wait to see it on Broadway next week.  Plus, their Tony performance was amazing! Tourists are going to flock to see Sister Act!

Then, there’s the one juke-box musical this year, Baby, It’s You!, based on The Shirelles’ music and story. The reviews were lukewarm and everything I’ve heard has been iffy, at best. I have a feeling that this show might be closing really soon. Now, it might push through like last year’s Million Dollar Quartet, but MDQ‘s fate is now being ushered to Off-Broadway at New World Stages. (It’s probably where it should have have been all along.) I didn’t get a chance to see this show as it started previews after my last New York City trip, but I won’t be very sad if I miss it. Plus, there’s that law suit that no one is talking about…

Finally, there’s People in the Picture, produced by Roundabout Theatre. It’s always been a limited run, but this show only has eight more performances left. It is slated to close on June 19th, 2011. Donna Murphy, the star of the show, was nominated for a Tony Award, but Sutton Foster easily beat her with her role as Reno Sweeney in Anything Goes. I haven’t heard very many good things about this show and it’s subject matter isn’t going to connect with audiences across mid-America, so I have a feeling that this is a show that won’t be remembered in 5 years time. (It will probably be forgotten even faster than that.)

2010-2011 Broadway’s Revivals:

Anything Goes is one of the biggest winners of this season and will be a huge hit for Roundabout Theatre Company. Frankly, they really needed it after last season’s awful revival, Bye Bye Birdie. I saw the first preview of this revival and knew it was going to win the hearts of everyone. It’s classic musical theatre at its finest. Sutton Foster is absolutely sublime as Reno Sweeney and the rest of the cast is fantastic. Kathleen Marshall’s choreography and direction is absolutely unreal. This is one of the best shows I’ve seen on a Broadway stage — an absolute must-see!!

The only other revival this season, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying is also a success story. Obviously, it’s huge star, Daniel Radcliffe, is raking in ticket sales, but audiences are falling in love with the rest of the cast too. John Larroquette just won a Tony Award for Best Actor in a Featured Role. The dancing and direction, by Rob Ashford, is classic Broadway. I hope to see this next week as well.

The 2010-2011’s biggest winners:

  • Anything Goes
  • The Book of Mormon
  • How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying
  • Sister Act
The 2010-2011 Broadway musicals that will have life after Broadway:
  • Sister Act
  • Wonderland
  • Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson
Time will tell, on whether or not these musicals will be a huge success:
  • Elf
  • Catch Me If You Can
  • Priscilla Queen of the Desert
  • Baby, It’s You
This season’s shows that will be forgotten:
  • Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown
  • The Scottsboro Boys
  • The People in the Picture
What did you think about the 2010-2011 Broadway season? What were your favorite shows? What were your least favorite shows?
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5 thoughts on “The 2010-2011 Broadway Musicals – What Shows Will Last?

  1. I’m curious about the horribly offensive nature of Book of Mormon. What was it that you found so horribly offensive? The language? The natives cursing God?
    I would agree that many people should pass on seeing this show if four letter words offend them. Others, that cringe of the mention of Jesus in a comedy should also avoid the show because it’s content will offend them. But that said, I think the show is far from offensive to anyone other than those people.

  2. Since I don’t live even remotely close to NY, the only 2 shows from this list that I got to see this year were Catch Me and How to Succeed. I loved both, but I will say that Catch Me did have a few slow moments for me. I think the dancing and the lighting were the most attractive part of that show. How to Succeed was fantastic.
    Personally, I didn’t have a desire to see Book of Mormon and I feel kind of like an outcast because of this. Everyone is seeing and and supposedly loving it. But even the performance on the Tonys made me cringe (I’m not Mormon).
    I would have loved to have seen Bloody, Bloody Andrew Jackson. I adore the cast recording. I hope that regional theatres pick it up because I can’t wait to see it.
    As for Wonderland, it was on my “to see” list, but closed the day I got into NY for my last trip. I downloaded the cast recording, but it didn’t catch my ear as much as I would have liked, but I think that if I’d seen the show I might relate a little more.

  3. Spencer, why do you say that the Scottsboro boys will be forgotten? I disagree. Though it’s run was short, many people loved it, and it will be at ACT in their coming season.

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