Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Shrek to Elphaba: Green With Envy

I don't get the fuss about Shrek. Sure, its box office may be struggling, and sure, it may be DreamWorks's attempt to best Disney (something they've been failing to do almost since inception, that curious Shrek 2 Oscar aside), but a show is a show is a show. And shows are big risks that often fail.

I have not seen Shrek because I don't live in New York, so this is not comment on the quality. But big shows fail--Elton John and Lestat, Michael Crawford and Dance of the Vampires, those Les Mis people and The Pirate Queen. I don't think Shrek deserves any more dancing in the news (or bad publicity) because of it. Just because it's Shrek, it's not a shocker.

What I'd rather hear more about is why. Why is the show failing to find an audience? My guess is that there's just too much competition for those types of shows, and while people love Shrek, The Little Mermaid and Mary Poppins are beloved. If I had kids to take to a show, I'd take them to either of the Disney shows. If I didn't have kids to take to a show, I'd go to In the Heights.

So, I'd love to hear other thoughts. Why do you think Shrek is currently (and that is an important word) failing to find an audience?

the Broadway Mouth
January 4, 2009


Ken Davenport said...

It is interesting to note that Disney is the only movie studio that seems to have cracked the "nut" in the transfer of screen to stage where the studio has taken the lead-producer role. Warner Bros failed. Dreamworks is struggling. And Disney has some of the longest and most successful shows of the last 10 - 15 years. What did they do right? Their product is better and better branded, but still . . . there has to be something else.

Broadway Blog said...

I think quality is the key. Even bad Disney shows fail--TARZAN and ON THE RECORD, for example. CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG is a well-known film, but it's not a particularly good one (which the Sherman Brothers basically stated in writing in their book WALT'S TIME). Without major revisions, I don't think the show ever had a chance here (it was a success in London, but then again, they love all sorts of crap that wouldn't last two seconds here).

Plus, Disney is more than a brand, it is a cultural identification that has meant something to people for more than 75 years. DreamWorks and Warner Bros have no brands. In 100 years, kids will still be loving MARY POPPINS and POCAHONTAS. KUNG FU PANDA and OVER THE HEDGE will be relegated to $1 Wal-Mart bin.

I haven't seen SHREK, but I wonder if it's just a quality issue or something else.