Laura Osnes and company in the most recent Broadway revival of Grease (© Joan Marcus)
I'm going from sappy Cat to cynical Cat. I know this seems like a highly negative list, but I felt like I needed to write about these musicals because they are so frequently done. Some of them should be put to rest and some other, better shows should take their places.
1. Footloose I'm sure Kevin Bacon wanted more than six degrees of separation from this piece. Gaah this has to be the worst stage adaptation ever. The movie is obviously a classic, but I cannot say the same about the musical. Granted, there are bright points in the music like the title song, "Let's Hear it for the Boy," and "Holding Out for a Hero." But songs like "Somebody's Eyes" are unfortunate. The music is lacking, and even in the hands of the very best actors, the script comes off as cheesy and insincere. Even if you can look forward to some good dancing, the rest of the show isn't worth sitting through.
2. Grease Things I learned from Grease: If you're not pregnant, then everything's fine and can go back to normal, and if a boy doesn't like you, you should tease your hair and smoke to get his attention. I'm not saying that every musical needs to have a positive message, but c'mon. Grease is one that is frequently done in community theaters, and I think that people should really think about the message they're sending little girls. The whole story is pretty lackluster.
3. Oklahoma! Oh Oklahoma. I know that this is a Rodgers and Hammerstein classic, but I struggle to make it through every time I see it. I can't take seriously a show in which a lead character is named Curly and there are such songs as "All Er Nuthin" and "Pore Jud is Daid." The one promising character in the show is Jud, who is surprisingly dark and complex for a R and H character. There's definitely a side to him that makes the audience feel sympathy for Jud. Unfortunately, he doesn't get enough time on the stage. The storyline is underdeveloped, and everyone's problems are solved when the villain just magically falls on his own knife.
4. Annie Why is this coming back to Broadway? I'm sorry, but the story of the little redheaded orphan girl has never touched my heart. The songs that Annie has to sing aren't really designed for a developing young girl's voice. Every girl I've seen play the part has ended up sounding screechy and shrill on those soprano notes. Also, I have always been creeped out by Daddy Warbucks. I think it's the bald head. Overall, I feel like Annie is done way too much considering it's a boring and stale show.
5. Hairspray I know that this is another controversial one to have on the list because so many people love it. Unfortunately, I am not one of those people. My main problem with Hairspray is that it tries to address too many problems in 2.5 hours. As a result, the show merely scrapes the surface of most of them. The way it addresses race is one of my biggest concerns. I feel like the issue of segregation is thrown in as a side thought. The black dancers get a couple of songs, but the issue of prejudice is shaded by the situation with Tracy. Is Hairspray about a loveable, overweight dancer, or is it about segregation? It needs to make up its mind.