Not every successful movie and book will translate across to the stage. Here are five of the most famous productions that did not live up to the hype.
1. Carrie: the Musical
Based on Stephen King’s famous novel about a lonely teenager with special powers who goes on a murderous rampage, Carrie was one of the most expensive flops in Broadway history. The show was plagued with script and technical problems, including an elaborate set piece almost decapitating an actress and the main character’s microphone invariably malfunctioning when she was doused in fake blood.
2. Moose Murders
This murder mystery play is now used as the standard against which theatre failures are judged, its name synonymous with plays that open and close in the same night. Featuring an attempted incest subplot, critics panned the show as “… so indescribably bad that I do not intend to waste anyone’s time by describing it” and “… the worst play I’ve ever seen on a Broadway stage.”
Written by the creator of Oliver! Lionel Bart, the show — a burlesque-themed spoof of the legend of Robin Hood — received scathing reviews and played to mostly empty theatres. On opening night the musical director collapsed of exhaustion and vicious arguments were overheard from backstage. The musical brought Bart to financial ruin.
The 1981 play was at the time the most expensive production in Broadway history, finishing four times over budget at $2 million due to elaborate set pieces and special effects. It opened and closed on the same night, and although cast and crew offered to take salary cuts and waive royalties to try to extend the run, the producers were unable to revive the show.
5. Breakfast at Tiffany’s
This 1966 musical based on the classic novel never even made it to opening night, closing after only four preview shows — problems included constant changes in script and score that saw the cast given new material hours before curtain time on a daily basis. Producer David Merrick placed a notice in The New York Times advertising the closure, stating he would shut it down “… rather than subject the drama critics and the public to an excruciatingly boring evening.”