Why I Hate Theater! Appalling!


Because crap automatically gets a standing ovation, but the good stuff doesn’t get one until the Times rave comes out. … Too many jukebox musicals end with a mixtape medley that has you thinking the whole show was amazing. … If it’s British, it must be better. Except when it’s unbearable. … The producers of Chicago are perfectly willing to water down the Fosse choreography to high school level if they can book a big enough name who happens to be spastic.

The Fringe Festival does not believe in air-conditioning. … You can sit and slurp food and drinks you bought there, but don’t dare unwrap your own candies! …The original production of everything was better. … I got front row at The Fartiste. … I always give enthusiastic entrance applause to anyone I recognize, usually resulting in everyone around me either glaring or looking confused. … Every movie ever made will eventually be turned into a bad musical. … Every musical ever made will be turned into a bad movie. … They rarely drum up the courage to use the Broadway stars for the screen versions, ignoring all the past travesties that this reckless practice has led to. (And don’t bring up Rent. That was the exception to every rule.)

The Tonys got rid of the Special Events category just as special events started getting intriguing. … Some great performances get squeezed out of nominations, but last year, the Best Actress in a Musical category consisted of five out of the six eligible actresses. If you got up and sang weather updates, you had an 83 percent chance of a nomination. … They keep trying to do Funny Girl without the right Fanny, then scrapping the whole thing. It’s like boarding everyone onto a plane, then saying, “Anyone know a good pilot?” … The kids on the boards are prone to reducing show titles to acronyms, and if you reply, “What the fuck do you mean by HTSIBWRT?” they get really evil. … We’re destined to see Gypsy about every five years until the day we die. It should be every four years.

I’ve saved some special Playbills for literally three decades, only to find they’re not even worth a dollar! … People loudly talk through performances as if you paid big bucks to hear a hit show narrated by a nasal stranger cursed with a crushing obviousness. (“He’s supposed to be Martin Luther King.” “Look, honey, she’s flying with her umbrella.” “He’s a singing and dancing homosexual, but apparently he was a woman in a past life!”) … The night I saw Private Lives, a rowdy guy in the back kept yelling comments at odd moments (“Yeah, right!”), which tended to lower the evening’s standard of dry wit. Noël Coward does not need hollabacks. … Every year, there are two Bible musicals.

Perfectly nice little shows that scream “Keep me Off-Broadway or out of town!” brazenly get moved to Broadway by delusional people who spend their lives overshooting the runway. … Some shows that moved from Off-Broadway to Broadway stubbornly refuse to give up the chance to make money when their run is up, so they just move back to Off-Broadway. … There has never been a Motown jukebox musical on Broadway!

You wait for 90 minutes at the half-price booth, then just as you get to the window, they take down the show you wanted! You end up seeing Memphis again. … Full-priced tickets are not an option, either. They cost so much that instead of taking a date to a hot musical, you can produce your own Busby Berkeley–style revue plus the tour and the movie version (which, naturally, won’t star the Broadway cast). … The bag check at the door is so cursory, they wouldn’t even notice a machine gun you might be packing in your floral clutch. … Ushers always refer you down to other ushers. … Getting coveted aisle seats means you have to stand up every time the other folks in the row claim, “Going to the bathroom for the last time, I promise.” … Halfway through Act Two, you horrifyingly realize that your cell phone is still on. But searching for it will make noise, and turning it off will play music. Do you just stay put and pray, grateful for the night’s first dose of drama? … The no-intermission trend has you home and penniless by 9:30. Wild night out, huh?

Movie stars whose careers have stalled invariably crow: “I’m thrilled to be on Broadway. Theater was always my first love!” … At Hugh Jackman’s revue, hot-flashing matinee ladies swarmed me at intermission and pleaded, “Write nice things!” Truth be told, I got a little scared. … If Shakespeare saw most of the productions of his work today, he’d probably say: “Roland Emmerich was right. Edward de Vere actually wrote this.” … We’re in the middle of a musical-diva golden age thanks to Patti, Bernadette, Donna, Audra, Sutton, Jan, Kelli, Kristin, and Alice, but you still hear theater queens murmuring, “There are no stars like the old days!” … Interactive theater pieces where you have to keep deciding which actors to follow always have me drenched, scratched, and wondering where everybody went.

It would be great to just once hear a producer say: “We trust this musical we’re reviving so much that we’re not gonna tweak a word. We absolutely treasure it, and it deserves to be done exactly as is!” … If you see a friend act in a play, you have to go backstage afterward and think of something to say that doesn’t sound too negative. (“Interesting! You really did it! Your energy never flagged! You were the best one up there!”) … When the show wraps, and I leap to my feet, the actors clearly assume I read the Times, and I’m joining the standing ovation. Please! I’m just bolting! Interesting!