History of the Singapore Musical
Is There a Singapore Musical Theatre?
Singapore Musical Theatre
Prescription for Singapore Musicals
Content Development For Musicals
The Singapore Musical
Singapore Musical Theater
Creative Industries
Five Foot Broadway 2007
Musical Theatre Workshop
Musicals in the Raw
Why New Musicals?
Incubating Musicals
Impossible Dream
How to Write a Musical
Writing Musicals
Future of Musical Theatre
Musicals Dead?
Jukebox Musicals
The Story of Chess
Sondheim v Webber
Fred Ebb
Film Musicals List
Break a Leg
Musical Dissonance
Flop Musicals
Are Critics Necessary?
Writer's Block
Five Foot Broadway 2005
Report 5 Ft Broadway
The Next Wave
New Wave 3
Admiral's Odyssey, The
Atlas Unbound
Big Bang!
Bunga Mawar
But Now We See
Chang and Eng
Corporate Animals
Firefly in the Light
Forbidden City
Good History, A
I Have a Date with Spring
It's My Life
Kampong Amber
Kung Fu Tale, A
Lao Jiu
Lao Jiu (2012)
Lost in Transit
Magic Paintbrush
The Magic Paintbrush: the Musical
Makan Place
Making the Grade
Mortal Sins
Mr Beng
Nanyang the musical
Oi! Sleeping Beauty!
Pagoda Street
Phua Chu Kang
Roses & Hello
School House Rockz
Shanghai Blues
Sing to the Dawn
Singapura: the musical
Sleepless Town
Snow Queen, The
Snow Wolf Lake
So You Want to be a Nurse
24 Hours
Twist of Fate, A
Viva Lah! Singapura
Women on Canvas
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Flop Musicals


Flop Musicals

Flops are to theater critics, as diseases are to doctors. Good health, like good musicals, are never as fascinating as illnesses and failures. Like some doctors, critics may also like to play god.

Take for example, Frank Rich, former New York Times theater critic. He is reputed to be able to determine the fate of a show by a stroke of his pen. A bad review from Frank could kill a show.

This is denied by Ben Brantley, chief theater critic of the New York Times. In an internet radio interview, he defended the critic, saying that if a show flopped it was because it was no good, and had nothing to do with the critic. The latter is merely a messenger, and it would be wrong to shoot him.

What is the role of a critic? I think a critic should help you understand and gain deeper insights into an artist's creation. But most critics fail to do that. They are merely the messengers. They give superficial answers to your question:  "Is this show worth seeing?"

Most critics get the answer "right". They correctly predict which shows are hits and which are flops. We only remember the ones that get it "wrong". Indeed, if you read the London critics panning Les Miserables, or Frank Rich's slightly unfavorable review of Cats, you might have missed out on these two musicals. Fortunately for these musicals, positive word-of-mouth was sufficiently robust to overturn the critics' negativity.

In the 4 August 2005 issue of The Guardian, Lyn Gardner wrote about a new musical, Behind the Iron Mask, saying that the "sheer ineptitude of the evening bears all the hallmarks of the West End equivalent of vanity publishing... it is a calamity project." The Evening Standard said that the musical bore the brunt of "one of the most ferocious critical onslaughts in recent West End history". Some have voted it as one of the worst musicals to be performed in the West End.

Come to think of it, there are more musicals vying for the honor of being The Worst Musical Ever, than contending for being The Best Musical Ever. Ken Mandelbaum in his book "Not Since Carrie: Forty Years of Broadway Musical Flops" votes for Carrie, the musical adaptation of Stephen King's horror story and movie of the same name. In Singapore that honor probably goes to Phua Chu Kang. Congratulations!

My recipe for writing a flop musical (and I speak from experience), is to have a poorly thought-out story, underdeveloped and unlikeable protagonists, unhummable melodies, bad performers, set in a hostile theater environment. Guaranteed to flop, or your money back. Hear that, Max Bialystock?

There is even a "Flop Musical Alert" bulletin board to help audiences locate these musicals. Early murmurings of another new musical, In My Life, is not favorable. There is a chance that this could be the worst musical to appear on Broadway.

I guess there will never be a dearth of flop musical wannabees!