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September 14, 2010 1:14 PM   Subscribe

Carrie: The Musical, is legendary for closing after 5 performances and being perhaps the biggest instant flop in Broadway history. It has also achieved cult status, with fans demanding the performance rights be released (they've been held back since its Broadway closing).

The internet has also been crucial in keeping the musical alive. These days, you can not only read the original program, but you can also find archives of bootleg recordings of various incarnations of the show (scroll down about 1/4 of the way down the page). An excellent quality recording of the late 2009 workshop production is also available.

Previously on MetaFilter from 2003.
posted by hippybear (46 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

 
Poor Betty Buckley managed to end up in this AND Shyamalan's The Happening. I know showbiz has its highs and lows but FUUUUUCK.
posted by hermitosis at 1:21 PM on September 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's no Dude. Or Moose Murders (previously).

When Broadway goes bad, it goes bad badly.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:25 PM on September 14, 2010


Please, please, someone tell me there's a scene where a gal in a bra and granny panties sings, "'Plug it up, plug it up' / how I wish they'd shut up / I could not believe / that this curse from Eve / had been hidden from me / Mama, weren't dirtypillows enough?"
posted by adipocere at 1:25 PM on September 14, 2010 [9 favorites]


"I am the sound of distant thunder!/The color of flame!/I’m Carrie!/I am the song of endless wonder that no one will claim!"

That's almost magical in it's badness. Flame on, you crazy diamond.
posted by shinybaum at 1:28 PM on September 14, 2010 [3 favorites]


Red Shoes is tied for the 5.
posted by Lutoslawski at 1:37 PM on September 14, 2010


And who could forget Glory Days! Which had only one (not so) glorious performance on Broadway.
posted by Lutoslawski at 1:38 PM on September 14, 2010


Act II musical number

"Wotta Night" - Ensemble

Indeed.
posted by angrycat at 1:42 PM on September 14, 2010


I had a dream that I was placing a flower on its grave and then OH MY GOD A HAND CAME OUT AND GRABBED ME AND THE SINGING STARTED and then I woke up screaming.
posted by condour75 at 1:44 PM on September 14, 2010


I worked on "The Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All" back in 2003, which closed after a single performance. Really sad stuff, what can I say.
posted by dbiedny at 1:45 PM on September 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


In the alternate dimension where things are better, "Carrolyne, or the Witche of Chamberlain" was Shakespeare's only attempt at a musical.

It is universally derided as the Bard's greatest misstep; a failed attempt to marry iambic pentameter to beer-hall tunes.

Productions are traditionally plagued by ill fortune, from the earliest attempts at staging up to modern revivals by foolhardy festival directors. Chaos always follows in its wake; in a few notable cases, also death. It is not referred to by name in theatre circles, but only as "The Menstrual Play."
posted by Shepherd at 1:48 PM on September 14, 2010 [17 favorites]


I know just enough about musical theater to be dangerous -- meaning that I'm only aware pf lesser known musicals when they are disasters of this kind of epic proportions.

But I've always been fascinated by this kind of badness and specifically this musical, and I can't help to think that, if it had been made just slightly later, it would have been a hit. Perhaps critically panned still, but given what type of musicals tend to succeed these days, I wonder if it was just ahead of its time.

Also, the Wikipedia entry is such a delight, full of stuff that I'd swear was there to amuse only me if someone had written it and sent it in an email, including:

  • ... though the songs are in Danish.
  • ...This was because of the difficulty in drenching Linzi Hateley in stage blood, which would clog her body microphone.

  • The school changed the script slightly in order to make the show "flow" better

    Okay, the last one us just because of word choice. And because I'm 12 years old.

  • posted by MCMikeNamara at 1:49 PM on September 14, 2010


    For those interested in a dishy trip down Bad Musical Lane, Ken Mandelbaum's Not Since Carrie cannot be beat.

    And FORGET Betty Buckley - NOTHING beats Darlene Love as the gym teacher in the aerobics/locker room/menstruation number...
    posted by OneMonkeysUncle at 1:49 PM on September 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


    I think we can top it.
    posted by Senor Cardgage at 1:54 PM on September 14, 2010 [4 favorites]


    It's less about Spidey having difficulty webslinging and more about the legend of Icarus, because U2 goddammit. Seriously, the very first line is "You can change your mind, but you cannot change your heart!" Holy shit.

    Boy, and I thought "Free me from the dark dream/Candy bars, ice cream" was bad .....
    posted by blucevalo at 2:01 PM on September 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


    People are always going to want to do this show because of the few excellent songs ("And Eve Was Weak" is amazing) and the fascinating behind-the-scenes story.

    But the recent workshop demonstrated why it will never work: they simply can't get rid of the unintentional laughter, even when staged by people with a keen understanding of what was wrong with the RSC production, even when playing to the most sympathetic audience possible. When Carrie says "I started to bleed" and the audience snickers, the production starts turning into camp whether it's meant to or not.

    One of the reasons why the authors have not recorded the show or made rights available is that they certainly did not mean to make it campy.
    posted by Epenthesis at 2:06 PM on September 14, 2010


    Holy crap, Senor Cardgage, those costume designs that Julie Taymor is holding up are further proof that there's no artist that's too talented or experienced not to roll with a really bad idea, given half the chance. I mean, Swiss Miss? Did some ex-Marvel Bullpen writer win the rights to Rocket Racer in court and want too much money?
    posted by Halloween Jack at 2:13 PM on September 14, 2010


    Five performances is not the biggest instant flop. Plenty of shows never made it past one show -- and any performances at all.
    posted by Yakuman at 2:14 PM on September 14, 2010


    I think the reason it's regarded as such is more that its budget of $8million or so was hugely expensive for Broadway in 1988. So the "biggest instant flop" isn't necessarily about the number of performances, but the amount of money sunk into it PLUS its sudden death.
    posted by hippybear at 2:25 PM on September 14, 2010


    In a world where we have a movie called "Oh Dad, Poor Dad, Mamma's Hung You In The Closet And I'm Feeling So Sad," there's no way that something as prosaic as Carrie the musical can be "so bad it's good."

    On the other hand, the program for Carrie the musical is the apotheosis of "so bad it's good."
    posted by infinitewindow at 2:30 PM on September 14, 2010


    Also, from the Wikipedia article on the musical:
    [Barbara] Cook was nearly decapitated by an elaborate set piece on opening night, so she promptly resigned but agreed to stay on until a replacement could be cast, which was for the remainder of the Stratford run of the show.
    Now that, my friends, is a trouper.
    posted by Halloween Jack at 2:32 PM on September 14, 2010 [4 favorites]


    Freaky shit filter: fifteen minutes ago I was finishing dinner with a friend and she was describing how a brush flew around in the musical version of Carrie and how it was cancelled after very few performances. And then I opened my computer and third FPP, Carrie ... Stephen King is out where??
    posted by bwonder2 at 2:36 PM on September 14, 2010


    I had a dream that I was placing a flower on its grave and then OH MY GOD A HAND CAME OUT AND GRABBED ME AND THE SINGING STARTED

    ♬ "The hills ARE ALIVE..." ♬
    posted by benzenedream at 2:42 PM on September 14, 2010 [5 favorites]


    ... those costume designs that Julie Taymor is holding up are further proof that there's no artist that's too talented or experienced not to roll with a really bad idea, given half the chance.

    Sorta related... the clothing line Bono and his wife set up to revitalize the African apparel industry is moving some of its production to China after complaints about quality.
    posted by Joe Beese at 2:43 PM on September 14, 2010


    the clothing line Bono and his wife set up to revitalize the African apparel industry is moving some of its production to China after complaints about quality.

    That's interesting. I have one Edun shirt (a U2 concert shirt, actually) and it's well made, lovely fabric, nicely screen-printed, and has lasted well over the 4 years since I bought it. I did notice that they aren't using Edun to make shirts for their current 360 tour, which didn't make a lot of sense to me. Seems like concert shirts would be a really good easy-to-make, high profit thing to make with African cotton.

    posted by hippybear at 2:53 PM on September 14, 2010


    "Oh Dad, Poor Dad, Mamma's Hung You In The Closet And I'm Feeling So Sad" is based on the off-Broadway smash by Arthur Kopit, and won a Vernon Rice Award, and is actually quite funny; it has a sort of Addam,'s Family morbidness to it. He also wrote the superlative "Indians."

    And then wrote the book to Nine and Phantom, which are godawful musicals, and Wings, which bored me. I've met him a few times and find him obnoxious, but he likely thinks the same of me.
    posted by Astro Zombie at 2:55 PM on September 14, 2010


    Nine is a great musical (I didn't see the movie), especially Raul Julia.
    posted by mrgrimm at 3:00 PM on September 14, 2010


    I'm adapting MetaFilter into a Broadway musical. I call it Snark!
    posted by rocket88 at 3:04 PM on September 14, 2010 [3 favorites]


    Nine is a great musical (I didn't see the movie)

    If you had seen the movie, you'd never think it was a great musical.
    posted by hippybear at 3:06 PM on September 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


    By coincidence I've just read a review for Dancer In The Dark - the opera... which I can't quite believe is a real thing.
    posted by fearfulsymmetry at 3:44 PM on September 14, 2010


    Astro Zombie, I stand corrected. But it's sad that this thread is now on the front page of google when one searches for "Oh Dad, Poor Dad, Mamma's Hung You In The Closet etc."
    posted by infinitewindow at 4:13 PM on September 14, 2010


    A YouTube video compilation of opening-night reviews from theater critics on NYC network tv news programs.

    Complete with publicity video from certain numbers. I've seen photos of the costumes (Not Since Carrie and other places), but wow. They're even worse than I remember. And those are supposed to be high-school students.

    re: hippybear above: "And Eve Was Weak" is a terrific number. Like a stopped clock is right twice a day.
    posted by tzikeh at 4:20 PM on September 14, 2010



    I'm adapting MetaFilter into a Broadway musical. I call it Snark!


    A CAST OF THOUSANDS
    posted by The Whelk at 4:25 PM on September 14, 2010


    > I'm adapting MetaFilter into a Broadway musical. I call it Snark!

    I believe we now have next month's Mefi Music Challenge.
    posted by ardgedee at 4:37 PM on September 14, 2010


    By the time they hit "A Ballad For The Banned" there isn't a dry eye in the house.
    posted by The Whelk at 4:39 PM on September 14, 2010


    If you had seen the movie, you'd never think it was a great musical.

    Rob Marshall made a huge mistake in thinking Nine was like Chicago--other than being suited to being staged as a series of fantasy sequences, they're totally different. Nine needed strong singers (Chicago could get by on personalities), and every song in its score contributed something important. The film, as a consequence of half the score having been cut, never goes anywhere.

    Not everybody liked Nine on stage, but it was a big hit, beat Dreamgirls for the Tony, and has been successfully revived. The movie's failure is almost entirely attributable to short-sighted decisions made by the creative team that was regrettably charged with adapting it. It's a shame that the show's reputation has been damaged this way.
    posted by Epenthesis at 4:58 PM on September 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


    My original YouTube account died for our sins was disabled and then deleted by TPTB because I was the person who originally posted several musical numbers from the Broadway version of "Carrie: The Musical" online, and my account eventually got slapped down for embarrassment infringement by Actors Equity of all frickin' things. The fact that the theatre critic for the New York Times revealed the videos' existence was probably what tipped them off: "And then there’s “Carrie: The Musical,” the discovery of which I consider the most choice fruit of my immersion in YouTube’s murky depths...The dedication of a single enthusiast has ensured that “Carrie” is not forgotten: a big chunk of “Carrie”-related material can be checked out, everything from television reviews by Pat Collins and Joel Siegel to B-roll tape (video supplied to stations for promotional purposes). *preens*

    I still have the bootleg DVD video of the first act (again, this is the Broadway version, not Stratford), and the CD's of a soundboard recording of the full show. I would happily post them online again if I knew that I wouldn't get my YouTube account yanked again.

    As Mandelbaum makes clear in his terrific book, the reason "Carrie: The Musical" is so beloved is that some parts of it are so grotesquely bad and yet, embedded within it, are a few really, really great numbers that throw the whole thing into even starker relief. In other words, it's the tragedy of wasted talent amongst the sheer bad taste that makes the show a gem; for all the joking about how awful the show was, the three mother-daughter songs between Buckley and Hately are absolutely incredible, and the versions online on YouTube now are either not the full versions or not the Broadway versions. If you can find the uncut Broadway bootleg videos of the songs "And Eve Was Weak", "Evening Prayers", and/or "I Remember How Those Boys Could Dance" -- and again, these videos are sadly not on YouTube anymore, thanks to Actors Equity -- you would be floored. At least the audio-only versions are available online at one of the links in the FPP.
    posted by Asparagirl at 5:04 PM on September 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


    I feel so in control of my life, for knowing in advance that the first comment in this thread was going to be from hermitosis.
    posted by StickyCarpet at 5:40 PM on September 14, 2010


    To the tune of "Oklahoma"...

    Metafilter, where the haters come bitching down the page
    And the hot popcorn can sure smell sweet
    And the snark comes right before the pain...

    Metafilter, Ev'ry night my sockpuppet and I
    Sit alone and talk and watch the squawk
    Until Matt, Jess or Cortex wander by...

    We know we belong to the Filter
    No other filter is better
    Even when we say
    Grar! Or yipeekayay!
    We're only sayin'
    You're doin' fine, Metafilter!
    Metafilter M.E.
    T - A - F - I - L - TER
    METAFILTER!

    posted by crossoverman at 6:12 PM on September 14, 2010


    I still have the bootleg DVD video of the first act (again, this is the Broadway version, not Stratford), and the CD's of a soundboard recording of the full show. I would happily post them online again if I knew that I wouldn't get my YouTube account yanked again.

    You should totally talk to Vinnie Rattolle about having those... He might be able to help you get that material online without it being related back to you. He seems to have a bit of a "thing" for Carrie The Musical, and I'm sure he'd be thrilled to hear about what you have.
    posted by hippybear at 6:31 PM on September 14, 2010


    I'm adapting MetaFilter into a Broadway musical. I call it Snark!

    If there were a musical called Snark!, I'd much rather it be based on Lewis Carroll's The Hunting of the Snark than on Metafilter or any source of snark in the sense of "sarcasm." Actually, that might not be half-bad; it's already in rhyme and meter, and Carroll's Snark has about the right number of characters to sustain an interesting musical.
    posted by DevilsAdvocate at 7:44 PM on September 14, 2010


    If there were a musical called Snark!, I'd much rather it be based on Lewis Carroll's The Hunting of the Snark than on Metafilter or any source of snark in the sense of "sarcasm."

    Nonsense. It would be episodic, kind of like the musical adaptation of Studs Terkel's "Working". No need for a plot if the individual sections are all strong enough.
    posted by hippybear at 8:03 PM on September 14, 2010


    I still have the bootleg DVD video of the first act (again, this is the Broadway version, not Stratford), and the CD's of a soundboard recording of the full show.

    A woman after my own heart. I have a video, but the quality is so very bad that I never bothered to watch it again. I also have audio recordings of the Broadway production and rehearsal tapes of the Stratford production. Oh, and a print of the full score. We could put on the show ourselves if you want, but I want to be Carrie's mom.
    posted by zerbinetta at 8:21 PM on September 14, 2010


    I just read the whole script and
    A: want to start a female lead punk band just to cover Eve was Weak (or name the band eve was weak, either way)
    B: really wish the could get performed again, it would be the perfect anti-Grease/Bye Bye Birdie
    posted by Betty_effn_White at 11:33 PM on September 14, 2010


    Snark!

    Whe-e-e-e-ere is snark?
    Underneath a post by zarq?
    Is it gonna clog the whole darn blog?
    Is MeFi now Fark?

    Whe-e-e-e-ere is GRAR?
    Is it where the MeFites are?
    Why'd it have to be my FPP?
    Fuck yourself, quonsar!

    Whe-e-e-e-ere?
    Whe-e-e-e-ere is snark?
    posted by Sys Rq at 12:23 AM on September 15, 2010


    I'm still waiting on the ZARDOZ musical. I'm tellin ya it's the greatest Andrew Lloyd show never made!
    posted by jettloe at 9:51 AM on September 15, 2010


    And apparently someone is trying again with a Carrie musical. Looks like an all-new work, but details are sketchy.
    posted by hippybear at 11:09 AM on October 7, 2010


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