In the first year of the twentieth century, as people were reveling in the glory of not being wiped out from the demonic Y2K devastation that we were continually warned about the previous year, Broadway musicals, along with other cities of the world, were still hot.
The year 2000 is still rather long ago, nearly two decades. It was the time before 9/11, a time when owning a cell phone wasn’t as common and a time when we were just dipping our feet into a new century.
We thought it would be fun to take a look at some of the musicals that made audiences laugh or cry but basically entertaining them into a new millennium.
1. Bare: A Pop Opera
Opening in Los Angeles at the Hudson Theater in October of 2000 our first musical is a rock musical with music by Damon Intrabartolo and lyrics by Jon Hartmere. The duo also wrote the book. After running until February of the next year Bare: A Pop Opera debuted in New York in a short lived off-Broadway production in 2004.
This rock musical has gone on to be reproduced in a great deal of cities from Houston to Barcelona. It tells the story of a young gay couple in a Catholic boarding school. It follows, to some extent, the story of Romeo and Juliet, while the students are producing their own production of the Shakespeare classic. It follows Jason and Peter, who are in love albeit secretly.
Peter wants to tell the world, Jason is fearful of the repercussions of being homosexual, at his school and with his family. Jason goes as far as having a sexual relationship with a female student and impregnating her. When he attempts to reveal himself to a priest at the school Jason does not find the consolation his is looking for and also feels he is losing Peter to boot. Due to all of this Jason takes drastic measures to ease his pain.
This musical touches on a subject that was seeing new light in the new century and it is obviously a hit as we see through the countless times and cities where it has been reproduced.
2. The Full Monty
Our next musical from the turn of this century was originally a movie by the same name released in 1997. In the stage musical though, the setting was not in England but Buffalo, New York where a group of steelworkers who decide to become male strippers to make money after learning that their wives have enjoyed seeing the same type of shows.
San Diego served as the first city to host this musical version of the popular movie in July of 2000. Three months later it would open at the Eugene O’Neill Theatre on Broadway and the cast would give nearly eight hundred performances. Once it closed another production opened in London’s West End at the Prince of Wales Theatre in March.
The whole idea starts when friends, Dave, Jerry and other steelworkers out of work, are given their checks from the government. They think about what has happened to their lives, which were once full of work and purpose. Meanwhile, their wives, who are the sole bread winners of the families, go to a Chippendales performance to celebrate their financial liberation.
Jerry and Dave hid in the bathroom of the strip club and learn of their wives’ discontent with them. While there they meet a Chippendale and when they realize that women are so ready to pay for male strippers they get the idea to start their own act. The key is they will strip down all the way and give them “the full monty.”
3. The Witches of Eastwick
Another musical on our list was a movie first, yet this version was based directly off the novel authored by John Updike. Also opening in the year 2000 the novel premise was turned into a musical by John Dempsey and Dana P. Rowe. Premiering at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane on June of 2000 in London’s West End district this first production was moved the next year to the Prince of Wales Theatre.
This musical would never make it to Broadway but would go on to be reproduced at the Princess Theatre in Melbourne, Australia in 2002 but closed after only a few months due to small attendance records. There were productions of The Witches of Eastwick in Moscow, at the Brno City Theatre in the Czech Republic, and Arlington, Virginia. The latter was held at the Signature Theatre and it ran for only a little over a month, intentionally, in 2007.
The story is set in the town of Eastwick where three female friends, Sukie, Jane and Alex all live. They are tired of their humdrum lives and long for some excitement. Little do they realize they conjure up Darryl Van Horne, who is in essence a devil. Darryl educates them on how to utilize and enhance the powers they were given, because they are witches, while the rest of the town begins to fear the four of them and the way they all carry on. Eventually, Darryl’s powers and shenanigans become too much to handle and the witches have to find a way to get rid of him.
4. Selena Forever
As the trend would have it for our list today, our next musical from the year 2000 is also adapted from a film. This one, though, is based on real life events surrounding the Tejano singer Selena Quintanilla-Pérez, who was shot and murdered by the president of her fan club. This musical opened at the San Antonio Municipal Auditorium and was set out to tour thirty cities.
This San Antonio production, which was intended to eventually hit Broadway, was created to celebrate the fifth anniversary of the singer’s death. After they brought in Tom Quinn, Jerry Frankel, Peter Fitzgerald and Michael Vega in to stage the production Edward Gallardo came on board to write the book and lyrics. Fernando Rivas joined the group to create musical compositions.
After opening in San Antonio, they moved onto their tour, which included a number of Texas cities like Houston and Corpus Christi. Yet, due to low finances the show was cancelled. The closing performance was held and Chicago’s Rosemont Theatre, after a six city performance.
In 2001, Selena: A Musical Celebration of Life was created by reproducing and renaming the original. It opened at the James Doolittle Theatre, which is now named after the famous actor Ricardo Montalban. It was a smashing success at the box office even though the critics were not that nice. This production went on to do over two hundred performances.
5. The Beautiful Game
Our next musical from the year 2000 was written by the ever popular Andrew Lloyd Webber along with Ben Elton. It surrounds a group of boys in Northern Ireland during the violent times that region had seen in the late 1960’s. Webber and Elton took the title from an autobiography of the famous soccer player Pelé.
The story surrounds these teenage boys who are on a football team, which is known is the US as soccer, and the struggles they face while their home is being violently ripped apart. The team is predominantly Catholic but one player, Del, is an atheist, and his family are Protestants.
The opening performance of this musical was held in London at the Cambridge Theatre in September of 2000 and it ran for a nearly a full year. The critics seemed to adore the musical score that Andrew Lloyd Webber created but the lyrics and book, written by Elton, were called “crass, predictable and undistinguished.”
The duo reworked the musical and renamed it The Boys in the Photograph and this version was produced with a group of students from the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts in April of 2008. It was success and would go on to be fully produced in Manitoba, Canada at the Manitoba Theatre Center. In September of 2009 the entire production was moved to Toronto’s Royal Alexandra Theatre.
The plot surrounding this Catholic football team focuses in, at first, on John, a star player. He and Mary fall in love. Meanwhile another member, Thomas, is a devotee of the Irish Catholic Nationalists. Thomas and his group try to force Del off the team because he is of a Protestant background. Del and Christine are an item and they are getting intimate in the locker room and go unnoticed when a group of Protestants break in to trash the Catholic team’s home. Both Del and Christine wish that the violence would just end and peace could be brought to their community.
Meanwhile there is Ginger, another Catholic team member, and he is longing to talk to Bernadette. When he finally finds the courage to approach her he finds that she likes him too. They have a sweet kiss and Bernadette leaves to go home. Yet, the same group of Protestants who broke into the locker room, approach him and the results are devastating for Ginger.
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