Broadway has a long list of star-studded shows that have lasted years. Some of the longest running Broadway shows include the likes of Phantom of the Opera, Cats, Chicago the Musical, The Lion King, and Les Misérables. Unfortunately, at the other end of the success spectrum are the theater shows that were ultimate flops. What makes a show a flop and what are some of the flops we love to still talk about?
Sometimes even shows that seem destined for accolades end up closing early or becoming infamous for being a Broadway disaster. Why one show soars and others flops depends on quite a few elements. However, as Theater Nerds so aptly puts it, “No matter how awesome the cast or how beautiful the score, there’s nothing for some shows to do but join a legendary list of Broadway’s worst-selling shows.”
Then there are the shows that are completely panned by critics but beloved by audiences. For example, the show You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown about the much loved “Peanuts” gang actually premiered in 1971. While high school and middle school drama productions still adore this musical to this day, it only saw the stage for 32 performances. It goes to show that the venue and target audience can play sharply into the success of any production.
Bonnie and Clyde is yet another Broadway show that was only on Broadway for three months, lasting a measly 36 performances. This number and shortened run would categorize it as a Broadway flop, but there is still a cult following for this show. Most critics did report that while the show was short-lived, the score was amazing and the main performers has vocal aptitude that should have raised this show to success.
So, these two examples of “flops” beg the question, what causes a show that may have a following to flop? For many shows that have a limited run there could be a multitude of reasons for the show’s demise. For some the acting, script, financial backing, or score was subpar, while for others the subject matter was not met with open arms by the American public. For a show to be successful, there needs to be emotion, passion, or content that strikes a nerve with the audience.
Take the ultimate Broadway hit Hamilton. Not only does the acting, score, and theme resonate with the audience, but it comes at a time when Americans are looking to their past to find a path into the political decisions of the future. The kismet, therefore was amazing timing for this extremely successful Broadway show.
For more “flops” whether they deserve the title or not, check out this article on the list of musicals and how long they lit the marquee on Broadway.