Monday, August 15, 2011

"Not Since Carrie" 40 Years of Broadway Musical Flops

"Not Since Carrie" written by Ken Mandelbaum is probably the most enjoyable and most insightful books about Broadway as a business, an art and an entertainment. Though the 392-page book was published in 1992, it is still revelatory reading spotlighting almost 200 musical flops. I hope that one day the book is updated to 50 or 60 years of flops to account for the musical failures that opened since its publication. The book is filled with so many fun facts and stories that readers can take it in by chapter or by musical title. I've found myself returning to re-read the stories behind some of Broadway's most famous musical failures since I first purchased the book almost twenty years ago.

Ad copy for 'Carrie'
The book title is inspired by the infamous musical 'Carrie' based on the novel by Stephen King with music by Michael Gore and lyrics by Dean Pitchford ("Footloose"). The musical was such an extreme failure artistically and financially that it lasted only five performances opening on May 12, 1988 and closing on May 15, 1988. Unlike the 182 previews of 'Spider-Man Turn Off The Dark,' 'Carrie' had a total of 16 previews from April 28, 1988.

"Not Since Carrie" is bookended with extensive detail about the titular musical. Mandelbaum writes about 'Carrie': "These fans are unaware that what they have witnessed has set a new standard, one to which musical flops will be compared and found waiting. The ad copy, which read "There's Never Been a Musical Like Her," has proven prophetic. These fans will tell their friends to get to the Virginia Theatre immediately, and many of them will return to 'Carrie' two or three times during the two weeks of previews that remain. 'Carrie' has become an instant legend."

Among the actors who starred in 'Carrie' include Betty Buckley (Tony Award winner for 'Cats'), Linzi Hateley, Charlotte d'Amboise, Darlene Love, Scott Wise and Sally Ann Triplett all of whom overcame the musical's failure with future success on Broadway or London's West End.

Find the book which is still available in softcover and explore these Broadway flops and more: (note: where possible the below titles link to the original cast recording on; where no recording exists the link is to another recording of the musical or an alternative version of the production)
'Annie 2: Mrs. Hannigan's Revenge'
'Breakfast at Tiffany's' starring Mary Tyler Moore and Richard Chamberlain
'Bring Back Birdie' sequel to 'Bye Bye Birdie'
'Do I Hear A Waltz?' with music by Richard Rodgers, lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and book by Arthur Laurents
'Flora The Red Menace' starring Liza Minnelli with music and lyrics by John Kander and Fred Ebb
Gone With The Wind'
'It's A Bird...It's A Plane...It's Superman'
'James Clavell's Shogun: The Musical'
'Legs Diamond' starring Peter Allen
'Merrily We Roll Along' music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim

Mandelbaum explains his criteria for a musical flop in the book's foreword. Also included are many photographs and poster advertisements. "Not Since Carrie" is available from

Though unlikely to be revived on Broadway, there has been interest in the music of 'Carrie' that a revamped version is planned for Off-Broadway's Lucille Lortel Theatre in early 2012.

One of the photographs in the book. From 'Carrie' the musical: Carrie (Linzi
Hateley) descends the enormous staircase as her mother Mrs. White (Betty
Buckley) lies dead at the end of Act II.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...