Broadway is an entity with a rich history full of myths and folklore, backstage gossip and secret “tricks-of-the-trade.” Rarely will a theatrical conversation not be littered with phrases such as, “Did you know…”, and “Did you hear…”, and, “Can you believe so-and-so is bringing in such-and-such?” We just love all the insider knowledge.
Well, in the spirit of the summer heat, where the last thing anybody wants to do is read a dreadfully dense blog, I thought it was time to just do something light and fluffy. You know, it’s nothing that will change your life. But, it may make you shrug your shoulders and say, “That happened.” Or it might just have you running down the streets shouting apocalyptic warnings of the death of the musical theater art form. Regardless, I feel it’s appropriate to denote this the Mamma Mia! of blog posts.
So, here it is. A light and fluffy blog with a side of insider knowledge. Here are ten theatrical fun facts that you may have never heard before.
- Did you know… that the title song of Phantom of the Opera is not sung live on Broadway? Due to the difficulty of the staging, the presence of doubles, and the fast backstage maneuvers, they were unable to have a consistent sound for the mics. So, the performers sing over preexisting tracks of their own voice.
- Did you know… that the New Amsterdam Theatre has a secret tunnel exit that once let out on 41st street via manhole? That way, stars could sneak away unnoticed. Though the exit is patched up today, the tunnel still exists…
- Did you know… that the infamous original production of Carrie featured a cast clad in Ancient Greek inspired costumes? Moreover, did you know that this was due to the fact that the show’s director, Terry Hands, had never heard of Grease the Musical, and subsequently confused Grease with Greece when the authors told him they envisioned the school as a 1980’s version of Grease. Oops.
- Did you know… that Richard Rodgers’ final musical, Two by Two, starred Danny Kaye as the biblical character of Noah, and ran for ten months purely off of ticket-goers interested not in Kaye’s performance, but his antics? Apparently, Kaye was upset with the book of the musical, as well as the performances of his fellow actors so he would invent his own dialogue, and give the actors notes on stage during performances. Well, it sold tickets!
- Did you know… that Hal Prince has 21 Tony Awards? If you watched the Tonys this year, you probably did. But, it’s worth saying again. 21. 21? 21! Wow.
- Did you know… that the Longacre Theatre, currently housing First Date, has only ever housed one show that surpassed a two year run- Children of a Lesser God? Well, good luck, First Date…
- Did you know… that the Gershwin Theatre was originally called the Uris Theatre, and the first show to open there, Via Galactica, closed in seven performances, becoming the first Broadway show to lose over a million dollars? Furthermore, the name of the show was changed to Via Galactica from the original title, Up!, so that the theater marquis would not read “Up Uris”… Think about it.
- Did you know… that The Addams Family is the only musical with source material from a TV series that has ever made it to Broadway?
- Did you know… that most of the producers and creative team of Hairspray originally wanted to cut the song “I Know Where I’ve Been”, because they felt it was too preachy, and wrong to not give the eleven o’clock number to Tracy Turnblad? Luckily, Shaiman and Whitman persisted, and the audience embraced the number. Now, it’s seen as the emotional core of the entire piece.
- Did you know… that Schmackary’s cookies basically rock? Well, you probably did. So, that’s a cheap ending to this blog. Well, so is the megamix at the end of Mamma Mia!… so I rest my case.