10 June, 2008

Revive Me

There's something that has always bugged me about the theatre community at large and that is the widespread hatred of revivals. Lately, it's been all about the Gypsy hate. Not out and out hatred, mind you. These bitchy theatre queens will be the fastest to confess their love for the great musical. It's the "endless" revivals they can't stand. "It was JUST on Broadway," they complain. "The public is sick of it!"

But the public certainly isn't sick of it. Much of America doesn't even know what the hell Gypsy is, or A Chorus Line, or Company. They couldn't care less that you think Barbara Walsh was so inferior to Elaine Stritch that she doesn't even deserve the time of day from you. What your American tourist cares about is seeing a good show. Furthermore, and more importantly, what your teenage Broadway enthusiast ALSO cares about is seeing a good show. That 13-year-old who just got her socks blown off by Patti LuPone didn't get the chance to see Bernadette Peters in the very same role five years ago. And even if she did, she wouldn't have understood a lick of it.

Theatre by its very nature is a cultural art form. In order for the young'uns to know what is good, they must be enculturated with the good stuff. And that means revivals. It may all seem tiresome to someone who's been going to the theatre for thirty-some-odd years, but it's necessary to raise up the next generation of theatregoers, performers, directors, producers, and creators. Yes, new works are exhilarating. But you can't truly appreciate a new musical's newness until you've enjoyed what's come before.

So, when ten years from now Gypsy is revived again (Emily Skinner as Rose, anyone?), instead of complaining, stand outside the theatre as the show lets out and look at the faces of the young people who will have just seen it for the first time EVER. You'll no longer see a reason to complain.


  1. Oh MAN do I want to see Gypsy!!

  2. Don't worry. I know it's difficult for someone in your station of life to make it to the city. But that's EXACTLY the great thing about revivals. You may not get to see LuPone!Gypsy (which would certainly be a shame), but rest assured there will be another revival when you have the means and opportunity to get there.