Musical theater geeks all know shows that flopped spectacularly on Broadway, such as “Carrie,” “Merrily We Roll Along” and “Dance of the Vampires.” But what about the musicals that never even made it there? Since many were never recorded or released for amateur production, there is little evidence of their existence.
The Broadway-centric supper club Feinstein’s/54 Below aims to change that with “Broadway Bound: The Musicals That Never Came to Broadway,” led by actors involved in the failed projects. Hosted by the venue’s programming director, Jennifer Ashley Tepper and “Behind the Curtain” podcast’s Robert W. Schneider, some of the musicals included Tuesday:
“The Baker’s Wife” — This 1976 musical, with a score by Stephen Schwartz, is based on a French film about a woman who abandons her much older husband to run off with a lover. Its epic ballad “Meadowlark” has become a staple of cabaret performance and auditioning. Director Trevor Nunn supposedly heard the song so often that he decided to stage the show in London.
“Rebecca” — A big hit in Europe, this musical thriller (based on Daphne du Maurier’s novel) had its Broadway debut cancelled twice due to financial shortcomings and a scandal involving a stockbroker (who later pled guilty to criminal charges) who tricked the show’s producers into believing that he could fill a funding gap. The producers are hoping to finally bring the show to Broadway this year.
“Nerds” — This musical comedy about Steve Jobs and Bill Gates was supposed to open on Broadway last season, but just days before previews it was cancelled due to the loss of a major investor.
“Captain America” — More than two decades before “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark,” Marvel Comics was planning a big-budget Captain America musical full of special effects. The plot apparently revolved around Captain America’s midlife crisis and a spunky young girl.
“The Rhythm Club” — Around the same time “The Producers” hit Broadway, a more serious musical about youths in Nazi Germany was also being planned for the Great White Way, written by Matthew Sklar and Chad Beguelin (“Elf: The Musical”).
“Pleasures and Palaces” — Frank Loesser, whose classics include “Guys and Dolls” and “How to Succeed,” wrote this history-themed musical about John Paul Jones fighting the Turks on behalf of Catherine the Great. Bob Fosse was the director-choreographer.