Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Bottom Line: Returning to a Show = Pleasing the Fans

I would love to be able to see Idina Menzel play Elphaba. I’d love to see Matthew Morrison as Link. I’d also love to see Marissa Jaret Winokur as Tracy Turnblad.

With the recent return of Adam Pascal and Anthony Rapp to the cast of Rent, there’s been chatter about some perceived fall from whatever perceived pedestal for these two very talented actors. I think that’s so dumb. Big Broadway stars who originate roles in shows often have a big following of Broadway fans. This mentality that it’s a step down to go back into a show after two or three or ten years makes no sense.

I would die to see Heather Headley play Aida again—on Broadway, at a dinner theatre, a community theatre, in her living room. I don’t care. That was an amazing performance. If a star wants to return to a show, what a better way to pay respects to your fans. Just look at the numbers Rent has posted since Pascal and Rapp returned. They are making thousands of fans so happy every single night. How can anyone possibly be critical about that?

Personally, I wish more stars would do it. I understand that doing a show for a year or two is going to have its limits in return appeal, but if that performer feels able to come in and give 100% to that character, then if anything, to honor their fans they should do it!

I do get frustrated when, in interviews, people say things like, “I’d never return to that show,” which can easily be interpreted as “I’m too good for that now” even though it’s probably more likely, “I don’t know if that excites me again because I already did 620 times and by that time, I couldn’t Shipoopi (or insert any other potentially tiring song/dance in there) one more time.”

But we all get the chance to change our mind, particularly when we are young. My gosh, I’d hate it if someone recorded all my words from when I was twenty-five and threw it back in my face. I’ve certainly grown up since those years, and Broadway performers deserve the right to go through their own experiences without being judged. What matters most is that they are able to come in now and give a spectacular fan-pleasing performance.

I also really don’t like the mentality some people have as far as status and the roles you accept. A great role in a great show is a great role in a great show no matter how many other people have played it. I can understand Kerry Butler, who has now had leads in a number of shows, not wanting to return to a supporting part in Hairspray because of the effect it could have on their career. But I love how Marin Mazzie takes great roles, even if she’s not originating them. I love Marin Mazzie, and I would have loved to have seen her in Man of La Mancha. Personally, I have no interest in Spamalot, but I would eagerly see it to catch Marin Mazzie doing what she does so amazingly well. Good for her! And even better for us.

A great performance is a great performance. If you can give a great performance and give your fans a memory to last a lifetime, is there anything better you can do?

the Broadway Mouth
August 29, 2007

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