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Wednesday, August 09, 2006


The Bitter, Tragic End of Performing Arts in America

There's a startling twist to the just-announced Broadway revival of Grease, to open in June under the direction of Kathleen Marshall (The Pajama Game and sister of Rob Marshall, director of Chicago and Memoirs of a Geisha). If you're a theatre fan, you're probably crying foul: "Waitacottonpickinsecond...wasn't there a revival of Grease less than 10 years ago, with Rosie O'Donnell and Megan Mullally?" Yes...but this new production is no mere Broadway musical. Read on, friend, and quiver in fear.

Starting in January, America will choose their very own Danny Zuko and Sandy Dombrowski via an NBC reality show entitled You're The One That We Want. The two winners will star on Broadway in the new production, but first, they will compete on television for one of the two leading roles in a twisted mix of American Idol, So You Think You Can Dance, and Call Me Madam.

Yes, I know the upcoming London version of The Sound of Music is doing the same thing (after Scarlett Johansson turned them down flat). And I guess if America can choose its own talentless pop stars and flat-footed ballroom dancers, it can also choose its own Broadway babies. But the level of talent and skill necessary to carry a full-tilt musical requires training, ability, discipline, talent, focus, and more training. These are NOT elements in great abundance on reality shows. Marshall is a legit director (and one of the show's judges), so hopefully she can keep the thing on an even keel. But I am, to say the VERY least, skeptical.
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