It was hard to avoid hearing any news about this stage adaptation of Stan Lee's most famous comic book creation. The news had little to do with the elaborate costumes, special effects or music from U2's Bono and The Edge. It had more to do with the fact that the cast racked up more injuried and wounded on their watch than an NRA wine tasting event. It also didn't help that the entire production was all style and no substance. It had sweeping special effects and dazzling stunts that they clearly had gotten right before opening night since they turned their first string cast into an endless stream of crash dummies. The costumes looked garish and flashy, even for characters that spend the majority of their spare time in form fitting Spandex and overly glorified Carnival costumes that look like a Comic-Con production of Priscilla: Queen of the Desert. As for the story, The Hollywood Reporter called it "the theatrical equivalent of a bad summer popcorn movie."
Dracula is another one of those timeless stories that make you wonder why someone hadn't tried to turn Bram Stoker's classic horror tale into a full-fledged musical by then. Then when you see it, you realize why no one has tried it. The 2005 production was, according to New York magazine, as mediocre as a mediocre production could get. All the focus seemed to have been put been on the massive and intricate set designs that transported the audience to Dracula's castle, but the music, acting and the rest of the production made it look like they were actually transported to the Romanian section of Epcot's World Showcase.
3) Jekyll and Hyde
The people who brought Dracula to the stage may have been one of their last productions, but it wasn't their first attempt to put something on stage with a lot of sucking (I couldn't resist). This recreation of Robert Louis Stevenson's classic novella had a fairly good run and even a regular crowd of hardcore "Jekies" who helped keep production going for almost five years, but it closed in the end and somehow lost money. However, it's no big mystery to understand why when you see the thing. According to one New York Times review, it's completely unoriginal and doesn't attempt to even try to translate the story on any deep level beyond the story material. They could have called it Cliffs Notes: The Musical. And, no, someone did not slip you a hallucinogen. That is the David Hasselhoff playing the title role in a Broadway production.
2) It's a Bird! It's a Plane! It's Superman!
Spider-Man may have set the stage on turning pop properties into plop performances but they are far from the first. The worst is another argument. The story of the comic world's most famous superhero got the musical treatment in the late 1960s and had a very good musical run on the stages, so much so that a theatrical version aired on ABC in 1975. It was so corny and campy that it makes Adam West's Batman look like Orson Welles' infamous production of Julius Caesar set against the backdrop of Nuremberg. Then again, Richard Pryor wasn't cast in it so it's far from the worst Superman production out there.
It's no coincidence that one of the worst sci-fi and horror based musicals was also one of the worst theatrical productions of all time. The reason that someone thought it was a good idea to do a revival more than 20 years later will probably always remain a secret if the backers ever want to work again. The original version opened on Broadway in the late '80s as one of the most expensive theatrical productions of all time. The reviews were so bad and word of mouth spread so fast that it closed after just five performances. Cut to the present and someone ignored all that "bad publicity" and decided to re-open it with slicker lighting and special effects and some re-tooled lyrics. The reviews weren't any less favorable. The New York Times review called the music "repetitive" and the lyrics "plodding." The fact that someone tried to bring back one of the biggest bombs ever makes one wonder why no one in the audience became so enraged that it unlocked their telekinetic powers and killed everyone in the theater.
Tags: Disappointment, Dracula, Frankenstein, Mel Brooks, Musicals, Spider-man, Stephen King, Superman