Theatergoers Disdain Neil Simon, Prefer Michael Jackson

rsz 3202514 Theatergoers Disdain Neil Simon, Prefer Michael JacksonDespite reasonably good reviews and plenty of publicity, David Cromer’s revival of Brighton Beach Memoirs closed this weekend, just a week after opening. It’s “one of the biggest commercial flops on Broadway in recent memory,” according to The Times. The show cost $3 million and never grossed more than $125,000 a week in previews. The planned revival of Simon’s Broadway Bound has been cancelled.

The Times grapples with this turn of events in a 1225-word article by Patrick Healy. Among the explantions it puts forth for the failure of Brighton Beach Memoirs:

- No Jude Law

- No “Wow” factor

- Collective lack of interest in watching “a Depression-era family laughing through the tears”–possibly because of current economic woes? This explanation is not discussed but perhaps implied.

- Not a musical

- Neil Simon was “a forefather of situation comedy writers.” Situation comedy has been supplanted in American taste by “reality shows like American Idol,” the “sardonic humor of The Office,” the “animated wit of Up,” and the “fratty banter of The Hangover.”

- Lacked “frissons of fear and panic just beneath the surface humor”

- Not “raw and edgy,” like Judd Apatow

- Not big enough, like Twilight or Michael Jackson:

Popular culture has also developed a bigger-is-better, entertainment-as-event attitude that runs counter to the ethos of the typical Simon play. Stadium-arena rock concerts, the “Harry Potter” and “Twilight” book and film series, the days-long cable news coverage of Michael Jackson’s death, the ever-increasing punch of season finales on television dramas – these do not have equivalents in the Simon canon and are not staples of Broadway.

I hope this clears things up.