Friday, October 19, 2012

Not Quite Opera

I remember "The Producers." Not the musical remake, or even the Broadway show that made the musical remake possible. It tells the story of a crooked theater producer who enlists the aid of a weak-willed accountant to help him cook the books of an all-singing, all dancing monstrosity called "Springtime For Hitler." The idea is to create such an unwatchable play that, after gathering bushels of money from elderly investors, the beast closes and declared a loss. All those extra bushels of money stay with the producers, due to the previously mentioned creative accounting. Mel Brooks set this thing in motion back in 1968, and it has made money for him ever since.
There are, however, plenty of reasons to believe that Mel didn't make this up all by himself. One of the more notorious echoes of Mister Brooks' scandalous notion can be found in "Carrie, The Musical." Back in 1988, somebody got it into their heads to mount a musical version of the Stephen King novel. Why wouldn't it work? "Little Shop of Horrors" turned out to be a huge success, after taking a 1960 Roger Corman movie as its inspiration. It did some nice business off Broadway before moving to the Great White Way, and eventually a big screen adaptation in 1986. Why wouldn't anyone who was a fan of horror and musical theater rush out to see the story of a girl who has a little trouble coming of age, especially after getting a bucket of pig's blood dumped on her head. Oh, those awkward teenage years. "Carrie, The Musical" is still considered one of the most expensive flops in Broadway history.
In a world that supports the odd hybrid of "Spiderman, The Muscial," it's hard to imagine why an audience couldn't be found for "Rebecca, The Musical." The Alfred Hitchcock film was based on a novel, and now that bloodline has morphed into a German language stage production. Why not? Maybe that's what went through the head former stockbroker Mark Hotton, when he decided to bring this show to our shores. Or maybe he was remembering "The Producers." Mister Hotton was arrested early Monday on charges he directed an elaborate fraud on Broadway starring fictitious investors.
Hey, this sounds like a great idea for a musical! Are you listening, Mel?

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