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A comment on An Officer and a Gentleman’s departure

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officer_headerSo they are letting it go and not trying to fix it.

Officer closes July 1 and it seems won’t be seen on these shores again. How disappointing, but then I can imagine the show has been losing money so badly over the last few weeks that the idea of closing it, making some of the necessary changes and repairs then re opening would have just been too costly.

Ultimately, I think Frost and his other partners have done the only thing that could be done – close the show. It is a tragedy and I repeat what I said in my earlier column on this, that it is a shame the show was thrown into the spotlight in Sydney with reviewers invited along so early in the process. If ever we see another attempt at an original musical being given this sort of commercial presentation again, please, please start it in Adelaide or Perth and don’t invite reviewers till much later.

This has been a real disaster for cast and crew and everyone working on the show. People re-organise their lives, rent out houses, change their plans and their locations to commit to long running seasons such as this. To suddenly be thrown out of work when they expected to be working until next April is an emotional and personal mess for many people that cannot be easily measured. Nor can it be easily understood by many members of the general public. In the last 24 hours alone, I have heard some hair raising stories of the financial and emotional hardship this closing will bring upon so many in the production.

Of course, the other side of the argument is that this is ‘show business’, and to live in this world, we all know there are huge risks involved. If one chooses to work in this world, one must accept that things like this will happen.

This is probably the biggest flop since High School Musical. (HSM saw actors commit to a long running tour that ended abruptly after only a few weeks.) It is ugly to watch – not to mention sad – but one can’t blame producers who ultimately have to make a decision that will protect investors and producers as best they can under such unfortunate circumstances.

Of course, the other fall out of a flop of this magnitude is that investors may become more wary of re-investing another big musical. Unfortunately, this event could well have far reaching negative effects on every part of the commercial theatre industry and on all producers, not just the ones involved in this production.

At least no one has tried to trot out the hard financial times as the reason for the show’s failure. The show didn’t work, the score and the book were just not ready for this sort of exposure. Whether it ever will be ready is perhaps questionable, and another discussion entirely.

A flop is a flop. No one can really be blamed, but I go back once again to the big “if only” in this.

Sydney and Melbourne are hard cities to open new shows. The level of criticism and expectation is on par with New York and London. There are a lot of cities in America where a show can open, learn and fail without the sort of eagle eye our capital cities fix upon shows. Next time – it might be prudent for producers to try the smaller cities and then maybe plan to close and fix again before Sydney or Melbourne.

Let’s hope all those affected by this show can quickly get their lives together again and even better, get into another show as quickly as possible. Certainly the producers of the upcoming The Addams Family and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang have a much larger and richer group of people to choose from for their upcoming shows.

Good luck guys.

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Les has written 59 articles on AussieTheatre
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  • Daniel Moszkowicz

    The news of the closing of this musical really has gladdened my heart in cold and wet Sydney today, and I can only report how pleased I am to have learned that Sharleen Cooper Cohen and John Frost’s production of an off-off-Broadway experiment goes down in flames.
    I am saddened that some of the cast and crew may suffer financially, however Cohen and Frost got exactly what they deserved and I am over-joyed to imagine how gloomy the mood must be in the basement of their pitiful artestry.
    This should now work as a wake-up call for them and future productions, that Sydney theatre audiences aren’t the brain-dead morons they thought them to be when hatching this plan/experiment to cash in from their gullibility. You lose! Ha-ha!
    If anyone can provide me with their business addresses or emails than I would love to pass on this news to them, personally.
    Cheers,
    Daniel Moszkowicz

  • Amanda Harrison

    Dear Daniel,

    You can find me on Facebook here https://www.facebook.com/pages/Amanda-Harrison/150935324967168

    You spell ‘artestry’ like this… ‘Artistry’

    Amanda xxx

  • Daniel Moszkowicz

    Dearest Amanda,
    I trust you fell into one of my trivial spelling checks, dear. This musical was an experimentation, a failure to be sure, and in order to bring out such little puppies looking for a skerrick, a morsel to chew on at the feast I provided by furnishing this thread my comment, I offered ‘artistry’ as the “art-test-try” it was, and yet once again, a failure.
    This is yet more confirmation to me of why I am the highest-ranked on the internet, and why your little spelling check was nothing but the work of a mere snotling or generic brand of troll. I think you should have gone a little farther back along the trail I leave on the internet, to have worked out that this is an acceptable and workable way of play, that is to say that there exists a kind of basis for it, when you reach my grand level.
    You may be disappointed to learn that I don’t do “Facebook”, I work from my cave at home, and to have one address like that confirms – yet again – that you little Aspirationalists will one day have this particular brand of internet all to yourselves.
    I’m sorry for you that you lost your meal ticket, judging by your early exit from Elphabas’ shoes, or should I say her green skin, you perhaps somehow lack the fitness to stay with your character till its necessary, required, conclusion. Nevertheless, it seems you have a real problem in “rising to new challanges”. Then again, you may be assured of more work with Mr. Frost, if he can pick himself up off the floor from this disaster, he is good to pack you in like that?
    So perhaps, in conclusion, I might suggest you stay away from your “first love” and look for more humble and gentler work on screen, you never know, it may actually lift your public profile.
    Ha-ha!
    Cheers,
    Daniel Moszkowicz. The Troll-King of Chatsitea within the Theatre Cordillera.
    P.S. Thanks for the outing, it was swell!

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1357117950 Catherine Donnison

      Hi Erin and Matt – bit of self-editing, because I like you both too much to leave my initial reaction on here XX