Two rather high-profile musicals are currently in the middle of their out-of-town tryout runs. First, there's Catch Me If You Can, which is in previews at Seattle's 5th Avenue Theater. (The show's opening was tragically delayed by the murder of Norbert Leo Butz's sister Teresa. I'm sure all of our thoughts are with Norbert during this terrible time.) Quite a bit further south, we have The First Wives Club at the Old Globe Theater in San Diego.
Variety recently ran a piece talking about the pros and cons of billing a tryout production as "Broadway-bound," citing both Catch and First Wives as examples. The producers of First Wives Club are of the opinion that the "Broadway-bound" moniker gives a boost to ticket sales, and in fact the show has extended its San Diego run until the end of August. However, the folks involved with Catch Me If You Can have been very careful to call the Seattle run a "world premier," possibly to hedge their bets in case the show needs work.
Well, according to Michael Riedel of the New York Post, Catch Me If You Can would seem more likely to be bound for Broadway, whereas First Wives Club could well be dead in the water. The critical response to First Wives was, in Riedel's words, "harsh," and even worse was the word of mouth among potential investors. The show is pleasing the California crowds, but the producers are scrambling to fund a move to New York.
Meanwhile, the advance word on Catch is relatively positive, although the show is apparently in need of some polish. Catch is scheduled to open tonight (8/6/09), and I've found no indication that the delayed previews have changed this, so the reviews will likely appear tomorrow.
Here's a promotional clip from the show, featuring Aaron Tveit (in the Leonardo DiCaprio role) performing the number "Live in Living Color." Um...gee, I hope the show is better than that clip. Much better. The song itself is unimpressive, with a decent tune but generic lyrics that tell me nothing about this character. And Jerry Mitchell's choreography here is atrocious, like something from a bad community production. Perhaps it's supposed to be bad, kind of like the garish costumes? Who knows. Yeah, it's not entirely fair to judge the show solely from this clip, but there's not much here that impresses me.
Then again, if I had only seen one number from Hairspray -- say, one of the forgettable numbers, like "It Takes Two" or "Without Love" -- I probably wouldn't have been all that stoked either. But the way "Live in Living Color" was shot would seem to indicate that this clip was meant for press distribution, so this was the number that someone somewhere chose to best represent the show. But there's no questioning the talent of the team behind Catch Me If You Can. (Book: Terrence McNally, Music and lyrics: Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman, Direction: Jack O'Brien.) Count these gentlemen out at your peril. So I remain hopeful that they'll be able to pull the show into shape before its likely Broadway bow.