5 Musical Revivals We Really Wanted to Work....But Didn't...

Chris Peterson

  • OnStage Founder

I'm always in the mood for a good revival of my favorite musicals. It's fun to revisit what you loved about each piece and every now and then the quality of the productions surprises you. 

In the past we have seen some exceptional revived productions that not only become classics but also are referred to being even better than the original production. But for every Chicago, Cabaret and The Color Purple, there have been some misfires. 

It would seem that sometimes, no matter how much we love a certain musical, it doesn't translate into a successful revival on Broadway. Here are 10 musical revivals we wish really worked, but ultimately couldn't live up to the original production or in some cases, followed the same fate. 

Side Show (2014)


While Side Show has enjoyed a somewhat cult status and popular rotation at regional and college theatres, the show has never attracted much of a Broadway audience. 

The original production only lasted 91 performances and the 2014 revival did even worse, clocking in at just 56 performances. It's too bad this piece can't seem to get Broadway box office support. It features a tragic true story set to a beautiful score featuring two of the best female duets in modern musical history. 

Little Shop of Horrors (2003)


The 2003 revival of Little Shop of Horrors had a lot to live up to. The original production ran for 5 years Off-Broadway and the movie is a comedy classic. 

But once the show got through its casting/creative issues, the final result was a bland, non-edgy, safe production which didn't impress longtime fans let alone scare newcomers. The production only received one Tony nomination for Hunter Foster and closed within a year. 

Flower Drum Song (2002)


As an Asian-American there is nothing I would love more than to see a hit Broadway show starring a predominately or all-Asian cast. Sadly, I think it's going to be a while before we see that. 

The 2002 revival of Flower Drum Song had all the right ingredients on paper. It's a Rodgers & Hammerstein musical, David Henry Hwang reworked the entire book and it starred Lea Salonga. So what went wrong? Hard to say but the show closed within six months and was almost shut out from the Tonys except for three nominations for Costume Design, Choreography and interestingly enough Best Book.

Jekyll & Hyde (2013)


Closing early is one thing, closing early on a limited run is something completely different. That's exactly what happened with the ill-fated revival of Jekyll & Hyde starring Deborah Cox and Constantine Maroulis. The reviews weren't kind, one critic said the show was "a cheap mess of bare-bones set and clueless staging that defeats the show’s bombastic allure."

The show closed halfway through its 12 week limited engagement having just played 15 previews and 30 regular performances. 

Guys & Dolls (2009)


Even though it's widely regarded as one of the best musicals of all time, that doesn't mean that every production of Guys & Dolls is going to be a hit. Just look at the 2009 Broadway revival. Despite featuring some star power(Lauren Graham and Oliver Platt), it failed to impress. Variety called the production "both gaudy and anemic, overdesigned and underdirected".

The show closed after it was shut out of both its nominations at the Tonys having played just 113 performances.