Seemingly strange plots sometimes turn out to be the best theater shows. "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" with music, on stage, shouldn't work, but you have Monty Python's Spamalot, which has been going strong since 2004. Should a musical about two naive missionaries sent to Uganda to convert its residents to Mormonism that boasts an appearance from Hitler do well? Probably not, but The Book of Mormon is the best-selling show on Broadway.
So weird shows have their place in entertainment (let's not forget The Producers, a show about two guys who set out to make the worst musical ever, only to have it be a wild success). Yet sometimes, when you break down the plot to its bare bones, it's impossible not to pause for a moment and think, "Really? Someone thought this would be a hit?" To be fair, this list is not a list of the worst musicals. It is a list of STRANGE musicals... most of which were incredibly successful. And even good. But still strange. Got it?
Hands on a Hardbody
Basic plot: In Texas, 24 people compete to win a car by seeing who can keep their hand on a pickup truck the longest.
Why it's weird: Well, aside from the fact that the contest itself is a bit weird, this is a musical, so there's a lot of singing and dancing... about a truck. Okay, fine, they aren't really singing about the truck, but also, they're kind of singing about the truck, since that's what the whole play is about! The stranger thing is probably that this is based on a real-life event.
How it fared on Broadway: The show debuted in February 23, 2013 and opened nearly a full month later, on March 21. It closed on April 13, afer just 28 previews and 28 performances, but not before receiving 3 Tony Award nominations.
We already know about staples on Broadway (Wicked, The Book of Mormon, The Lion King), but looking ahead to the late summer/fall theater season, there are a few new shows to get excited about. While I touched on a few back in April, including Romeo and Juliet (opening August 24) and Waiting for Godot/No Man's Land (opening November 24), these new ones involve Shakespeare, music, and super-awkward first dates.
Let It Be
Opens: July 24, 2013
About: The Beatles! And who doesn't love The Beatles? This musical features some of their amazing music, all while telling the story of their rise to fame. It will also include "state-of-the-art projection technology and 3D sound" (whatever that means, but it sounds fun!). The original production was created to celebrate the band's 50th anniversary, but the West End production grew so successful that it's heading to the states.
Ticket Info: Find tickets to Let It Be »
If you've ever wanted a job really, really bad, then you know the agonizing process between when you interview and when you get the call about whether you've landed the position. It's hard enough to go through that as an adult, but imagine as an 8-year-old aspiring Broadway star? Last week, PBS aired a documentary about Broadway's Annie and in it, included footage of eight little girls who received the call they'd been waiting for — yes, they would be cast in the show. Each child's parent caught their reaction to the news on video. Watching them get excited is like being told we landed our dream job, too.
If you never thought you'd be able to catch a Broadway musical about a rap superstar, fear not: Holler If Ya Hear Me is slated to head to the Great White Way this 2013-14 season. The rap musical is inspired by the work — not the life, as this will not be biographical — of Tupac Shakur.
Although Tupac's music is the inspiration behind the production, Holler If Ya Hear Me will be an original story set in a Midwestern industrial city, present day. (As opposed to East Harlem, where Tupac was born in 1971.) Tupac will not be a character in the musical, although the title of the play derives from his 1993 song "Holler If Ya Hear Me." Instead, the story features two childhood friends and their families as they try to deal with the difficult life on the inner-city streets.
Kenny Leon, who will direct the production, said this about the show: "Tupac was a prophet and I want everyone to see that."
July is a busy month not just for concerts, but sporting and theater events as well. Aside from summer fests, several artists launch their tours, including Justin Timberlake and Jay-Z. For sports, MLB and WWE events are prolific. Meanwhile, for theater lovers, two shows will open on Broadway, including Let It Be, a Beatles musical. Here's what to look out for in July!
Justin Timberlake/Jay-Z: The highly-anticipated "Legends of the Summer" tour starts July 17 in Canada, then heads to the Bronx, Chicago, and San Francisco.
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Fun.: Following their second album, Some Nights, Fun. heads on tour with Tegan & Sara starting July 6. They'll stop at the Bunbury Musical Festival July 12.
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Jonas Brothers: JoBros return with a brand new tour beginning July 10 in Chicago, IL. The trio will make stops in Boston, MA, Atlantic City, NJ, and Charlotte, NC, before it wraps in mid-August.
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