Greasy Constantine Can’t Save Broadway
I wonder how many emails Joe Dziemianowicz, the writer, will be inundated with from Greasy Constantine’s fanbase. It’s not an entirely unfavorable article, but it does state the fact that Constantine Maroulis cannot save Broadway when Rock of Ages moves there in April. Even when waitresses are plying the audience with drinks, the chances are slim.
And ‘m not sure about Ruben Studdard portraying Billy Flynn in Chicago, but Melinda Doolittle as Mama Morton could be amazing. Is Studdard really right for the role of Billy Flynn? And as far as Idols on Broadway go, he did forget to mention Ace Young in Grease, as well as LaToya London in The Color Purple. Did these contestants not “fill the seats” or are they just not more widely-known names?
Maybe people aren’t spending money on the theatre these days. And hard-core NY theatre goers who have the ability to see any show they want and whenever they way, probably aren’t going to spend their money on relative fluff such as Grease or Legally Blonde, for instance. Spring Awakening, which won a bunch of Tonys, was forced to close. With its Rufus Wainwright soundtrack, edgy storyline (German teens having sex!) and critical acclaim, did it not sell well enough to keep the seats filled? Perhaps Broadway producers are aiming to fill the theaters with shows having more “universal appeal” — i.e., the crap tourists will waste their money on. West Side Story is coming back to Broadway, another classic musical everyone knows…
Quite ironic, really, since in recent years, the movie musical has experienced a rebirth of sorts with the popularity of Chicago, Hairspray, Mamma Mia and that High School Musical crap.
(Side note: I definitely do not purport to be an expert on musical theatre. Not by any stretch.)
From today’s NY Daily News:
Can an “American Idol” belter save Broadway?
In a word: no.
It’ll take more than that to rescue the Great White Way, which has been hit hard (nine closings last week, and more to come this month) by a nosediving economy.
Still, it can’t hurt for an Idol to try. And one shaggy-maned rocker from the popular TV reality contest is reportedly about to step up.
While word isn’t yet official,Brooklyn-born Constantine Maroulisis said to be on board for the Broadway transfer of “Rock of Ages,” the ’80s musical of Journey, Bon Jovi and Whitesnake tunes.
The popular finalist from Season 4 cultivated a following while on the TV show. That helped draw audiences during the Off-Broadway run of “Rock of Ages” at New World Stages, which ended last week in advance of the Broadway run beginning in March.
More than ever, producers need as many ways to get fannies in seats as they can come up with. And if history has taught us anything, it’s that the right Idol in the right show at the right time can mean green in the bank.
Take Fantasia Barrino. When it was announced in 2007 that the Season 3 champ would assume the role of the abused Celie in “The Color Purple,” ticket sales spiked to the tune of $6 million. At the time, producer Scott Sanders told The News he expected the “Idol” champ “was going to kick things up.”
Taylor Hicks, the Season 5 winner known for his gray hair and smoky purr, had a similar kick on ticket sales when he played Teen Angel in “Grease,” which closed last week on Broadway. The till got a heavenly $150,000 weekly bump.
Now on the road in the national tour of the ’50s-set musical, Hicks is still bringing in business. “He’s doing great for the show,” said a theater insider.
And if members of Hicks’ “Soul Patrol” of fans are showing up, so did Claymates. Fans of Clay Aiken came out in full force when he took over the role of Sir Robin in the spoofy musical, which closes today.
Over the years, “American Idol” has become an express lane to Broadway, with producers and casting directors eagle-eyeing shows for prospective players.
“They are a talented bunch,” says Duncan Stewart, casting director for “Chicago” and all of producers Barry and Fran Weissler’s projects.
Over the years, Duncan has had conversations with many “Idol” contestants about taking over roles in the long-running “Chicago.” Among them, Ruben Studdard, for the role of Billy Flynn, and Melinda Doolittle, as prison matron Mama Morton. So far no deals have been made, but the talks continue.
“Ages” producers Matt Weaver and Carl Levin first encountered Maroulis during his run on “American Idol.” “When we met Constantine, we instantly liked him and knew he would be perfect for ‘Rock of Ages,'” they noted. “He has a real rock sensibility.”
That works for “Ages.” And it doesn’t hurt for a dude who’s in a position to turn the ailing beat of Broadway around.
It also doesn’t hurt that Rock of Ages serves alcohol to its audience. From everything I’ve read on the show, the popularity of it was buoyed by deeply discounted tickets (even offerings on the sides of milk cartons in New Jersey), excessive marketing, and lots & lots of LIQUOR coupled with the whole 1980s revival thing. Most comments on Broadway boards talk about it being fun IF you’re drunk because of the party-like atmosphere. Had its new Broadway theatre not okayed in-seat alcohol service when it debuts in April, would its BW prospects been less than favorable?
Granted, I’ve only seen the cast in their performance on Late Night with Conan O’Brien. Well…here’s the clip. You be the judge.
(And check out Greasy Constantine’s jazz hands! They’re like spastic coked up jazz hands!)