Broadway Rock Stars: Green Day, U2’s Bono and Spider-Man Fail Miserably
Green Day, U2 and Spider-Man attempt Broadway and fail miserably.
Just because you are a rock star that writes amazing songs and classic albums (U2, Green Day) it doesn’t mean you can put together a Broadway play surrounding your music (or surrounding your idea and involving your music) and people will flock to see it. The same is to be said with a blockbuster hit at the movies, just because it did well there doesn’t mean it will be a musical masterpiece. (Spider-Man)
U2’s Bono and The Edge as well as Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong are learning those lessons the hard way. Green Days record “American Idiot” is the concept album that announced them as one of the best bands on the planet. It is a stunning achievement that is worth every word of accolades it has gotten. Billie Joe along with some producers decided to bring its story of the punk rock freedom fighter from American Idiot to the Broadway stage. Using music directly from the Grammy winning album they put together a narrative and fashioned a punk rock sort of musical. While the show has gotten some good reviews and earned three Tony Nominations, it has failed to impress or preform very well at the box office. Billie Joe filled in for the show star Tony Vincent for a week back at the end of September when Vincent has some family issues to attend to. For Armstrong’s performances, the crowds turned out, but when he left the crowds went with him. When Armstrong was in the cast the show played to an average of 93% capacity for each show. When he was not there the numbers fell to around 53%. The writing is on the wall. People want to see Billie Joe sing those songs, not someone else.
Billie Joe Armstrong (Green Day) will return to the stage January 1st for a 50 show run that will last through February 27th. Jan and Feb are traditionally the most challenging months for Broadway so many shows bring in a star to help put them over the top. There is no word on whether he will end up staying longer or if American Idiot cast original Vincent will then take the roll back after Armstrong’s run is done.
U2 is also having issues on Broadway. After much delay and many budget worries their high tech, high dollar and highly anticipated Spider-Man play opened for its pre view run. There were a few technical problems opening night that causes delays in the already three and a half hour long show, but for the most part everything worked well. The problem is that the reviews were not very good. Most critics agreed that the plot is too complicated and too convoluted and that some of the costumes and effects were not that great. Spider-Man will have a six week pre view run before having its official grand opening to audiences and as one critic put it, “They are going to need every second of those six weeks.”
Even the driving music by Bono and The Edge couldn’t save the show. Some reports are that the music isn’t all that great and for me I go back to my previous point. People want to hear those songs, but they want to hear them sang by Bono, not a Broadway actor. It remains to be seen if Spider-Man will bomb or thrive, but I think the message is clear. If you are a rock star and you want to take your music to Broadway, you better be prepared to perform it yourself.
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