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Stephen Purdy: Flop Musicals of the Twenty-First Century (2020)

flop.jpgAus nichts lernt man mehr als aus Fehlern. Stephen Purdy, Mitglied der Musical Theatre Faculty am Marymount Manhattan College in New York City, bietet unter dem Motto »How they happened, when they happened (and what we’ve learned)« eine ganze Reihe von Fehleranalysen, in diesem Fall auf dem Gebiet des Musicals. Die untersuchten Shows: »Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark«, »Lestat«, »Urban Cowboy«, »The Pirate Queen«, »Rocky«, »King Kong«, »Escape to Margaritaville«, »Glory Days«, »Bullets Over Broadway« und »Dance of the Vampires«. Der Autor geht wie ein Detektiv an die Sache ran: «In this book, I don’t intend to offer a wholesale take on how the shows could have been fixed. If the most astute minds of the theatre couldn’t figure out how to have made these shows run on Broadway, then I certainly cannot. Instead, here I am keen to reveal what the ill-fortune of these shows may be able to teach us by discovering what went wrong along the way.« 13 Seiten der insgesamt 108 sind »Dance of the Vampires« gewidmet. Zum Einstieg formuliert Purdy eine recht blumige Beschreibung der VBW-Produktion: »With ›Tanz der Vampire‹ (…) Austrian and German audiences got what they craved in the Wagnerian operatic sense, which, to wit, was through-composed, other-worldly, and possessed a certain mythical grandeur. With this in mind, to comprehend the true reality of the scope of the changes made to the production for the Broadway outing, one must recognize the specificities of the style that appeared in the German production, which one might classify in an era obsessed with labeling something like grand pop-opera. But when you give ’em what they want, you may be richly rewarded. ›Tanz der Vampire‹ surely was. The stagecraft alone, that is to say the physical production, was likely enough to bring those who might find that the story was exasperating into the theatre to have a look. Big-budget sets and effects were aplenty and abundant enough to rival the visuals of the great European opera houses. Side by side with other operatic conventions like quintets that brought to mind those of the great opera makers of the 19th century and lovers whose togetherness was imperiled by other-worldly shenanigans, the show was a brazen example of the intertwining of musical theatre and operatic sensibilities – vampire style.«
Purdys flott geschriebene Einschätzung basiert auf bekannten Fakten, ist aber leicht unterfüttert mit Gerüchten, etwa in Bezug auf das tragische Ende von Steve Barton: »Steve Barton, the actor who had been ›promised‹ the role for New York, was found dead the day after the announcement was made public that Crawford would play the role in what was rumored (although not substantiated) to be a suicide.«
Bahnbrechend neue Erkenntnisse darf man sich in diesem Buch generell nicht erwarten, aber eine gut geschriebene Zusammenschau wesentlicher Meilensteine zu einem gelungenen Musical-Misserfolg.

Stephen Purdy: Flop Musicals of the Twenty-First Century. How They Happened, When They Happened (And What We’ve Learned). Routledge, New York 2020. 108 S.; (Hardcover) ISBN 978-036717331. $ 150,–. routledge.com

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