Getting Bodies into Seats At Criss Angel: Believe

Discuss the latest news and rumors in the magic world.
Chris Aguilar
Posts: 1840
Joined: January 17th, 2008, 12:00 pm
Location: Sacramento
Contact:

Re: Getting Bodies into Seats At Criss Angel: Believe

Postby Chris Aguilar » April 4th, 2009, 11:22 pm

I've seen Phantom (large production in LA many years ago). Hated it.

I understand there's a large market for that sort of hokum, and I'm glad that it's been enjoyed by so many, but... not for me.

Jonathan Townsend
Posts: 8250
Joined: January 17th, 2008, 12:00 pm
Location: Westchester, NY
Contact:

Re: Getting Bodies into Seats At Criss Angel: Believe

Postby Jonathan Townsend » April 4th, 2009, 11:35 pm

... careful the tale you tell, that is a spell.
Mundus vult decipi -per Caleb Carr's story Killing Time

User avatar
NCMarsh
Posts: 1223
Joined: February 16th, 2008, 12:00 pm
Favorite Magician: Devant, Wonder, Richiardi, Benson, DeKolta, Teller, Harbin, Durham, Caveney, Ben, Hoy, Berglas, Marceau
Location: Orlando, FL
Contact:

Re: Getting Bodies into Seats At Criss Angel: Believe

Postby NCMarsh » April 4th, 2009, 11:46 pm

Timothy Drake wrote: I guess you are not one of the 80 million or so who have seen it or wish to.


You would guess wrong. I have seen Phantom live, along with several other ALW pieces.

N.

User avatar
Richard Kaufman
Posts: 25326
Joined: July 18th, 2001, 12:00 pm
Favorite Magician: Theodore DeLand
Location: Washington DC
Contact:

Re: Getting Bodies into Seats At Criss Angel: Believe

Postby Richard Kaufman » April 4th, 2009, 11:47 pm

Les Mis was a piece of crap, too.

Andrew Lloyd Weber is never even mentioned in the same breathe as Stephen Sondheim. Sondheim is a master, a genius.

Weber is a hack who cranks out trash to please the public--akin to novelist Sydney Sheldon.
Subscribe today to Genii Magazine

Timothy Drake
Posts: 117
Joined: November 3rd, 2008, 5:50 pm
Contact:

Re: Getting Bodies into Seats At Criss Angel: Believe

Postby Timothy Drake » April 5th, 2009, 12:01 am

[quote=Richard Kaufman

Weber is a hack who cranks out trash to please the public--akin to novelist Sydney Sheldon. [/quote]

Webber learned that trick from The Disney Company.

User avatar
NCMarsh
Posts: 1223
Joined: February 16th, 2008, 12:00 pm
Favorite Magician: Devant, Wonder, Richiardi, Benson, DeKolta, Teller, Harbin, Durham, Caveney, Ben, Hoy, Berglas, Marceau
Location: Orlando, FL
Contact:

Re: Getting Bodies into Seats At Criss Angel: Believe

Postby NCMarsh » April 5th, 2009, 12:12 am

Walt Disney created something the likes of which had never been conceived before. There was nothing, nothing remotely comparable to Disney World when he bought a huge patch of swamp in the middle of nowhere. it was genius and it was vision -- creating an immersive world where people could move through their fantasies...

Gimmicky spectacle and pop ballads came way before ALW...he executes it well, and I'm glad people enjoy it...but masterpiece is an overstatement

Jonathan Townsend
Posts: 8250
Joined: January 17th, 2008, 12:00 pm
Location: Westchester, NY
Contact:

Re: Getting Bodies into Seats At Criss Angel: Believe

Postby Jonathan Townsend » April 5th, 2009, 12:13 am

Starting to look like a dispute over a matter of taste.

Can you imagine the fun of Sydney Sheldon working over a Michael Crichton novel?
Mundus vult decipi -per Caleb Carr's story Killing Time

Timothy Drake
Posts: 117
Joined: November 3rd, 2008, 5:50 pm
Contact:

Re: Getting Bodies into Seats At Criss Angel: Believe

Postby Timothy Drake » April 5th, 2009, 12:22 am

NCMarsh wrote:Walt Disney created something the likes of which had never been conceived before. There was nothing, nothing remotely comparable to Disney World when he bought a huge patch of swamp in the middle of nowhere. It may not be art, but it was genius and it was vision -- creating an immersive world where people could move through their fantasies...



Hello Nathan,

I am betting that not many on this board know more about Walt Disney ( other than Richard maybe) than I do. I have studied the man for 25 years and an oil painting of him adorns my living room wall. I have quite an extensive library on him. Note that I said... " The Disney Company" and not Walt Disney. They are in my opinion two entirely different entities.

BTW... yes there was something similar to Disney World when Walt bought swampland in Florida. It's called Disney Land. Now THAT was original.

Best,

Tim

Disparity1
Posts: 61
Joined: March 20th, 2008, 4:45 pm

Re: Getting Bodies into Seats At Criss Angel: Believe

Postby Disparity1 » April 5th, 2009, 12:24 am

Criticism

...the main and overriding attraction of criticism is that it at once makes the critic superior to what he is criticising. A man who criticises a play implies that he has seen better plays and that he knows what a better play is like. A girl who criticises a party wants people to know that she is used to going to better parties. A book critic wants his readers to know that he has not been taken in. Praise, on the other hand, seems to imply subservience and navety. If one person praises a restaurant and another criticises it then the critic feels that she knows what good food is really like whereas the praiser is satisfied with any old thing. Because criticism is so easy it is often the refuge of mediocre minds who cannot be interesting in any other way. Too often a critic forgets that he is not criticising the situation but only his understanding of it. A book critic may be indicating his lack of understanding of the book as much as its deficiencies. In practice you do not have to understand something to criticise it indeed, criticism is very often a camouflage for lack of understanding.

-- Edward deBono

User avatar
Richard Kaufman
Posts: 25326
Joined: July 18th, 2001, 12:00 pm
Favorite Magician: Theodore DeLand
Location: Washington DC
Contact:

Re: Getting Bodies into Seats At Criss Angel: Believe

Postby Richard Kaufman » April 5th, 2009, 12:35 am

The difference between what Walt Disney did with his animated films (he did create the medium of the feature-length animated film) and his better live-action films (So Dear to My Heart, Song of the South, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, and Mary Poppins, to name but a few) is that they were not the work of a hack--or even of one man. They were the work of large teams of people whom Disney broght together. The films were acclaimed by critics and public alike.

Andrew Lloyd Weber's shows were routinely roasted by critics, who saw them as poorly written with schlock music and lyrics. Yes, people went to see most of them in droves, but that proves nothing to me except that they were financially successful. And they are now mostly dated and can be seen for the tripe they were. In my theater-going days in New York City I saw Cats and Les Miz, along with every Sondheim show that opened as I grew up. The Sondheim stuff was great, thoughtful, full of intellect and emotion. The Weber stuff was just a lot of crap and failed in almost every way except for the sets and costumes.

Disney's films, on the other hand, have ripened with age. Even animated films such as Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan, and Sleeping Beauty--which were criticized at the time of their release as being less well crafted than his earlier films--have now been recognized as classics of the genre.
Subscribe today to Genii Magazine

Jonathan Townsend
Posts: 8250
Joined: January 17th, 2008, 12:00 pm
Location: Westchester, NY
Contact:

Re: Getting Bodies into Seats At Criss Angel: Believe

Postby Jonathan Townsend » April 5th, 2009, 12:36 am

I prefer the other guy's essay on criticism - the one with the Pierian spring. Maybe that quote is taken out of context - but here it reads like he was wearing his spite colored hat.
Last edited by Jonathan Townsend on April 5th, 2009, 12:45 am, edited 0 times in total.
Reason: spellilng

Timothy Drake
Posts: 117
Joined: November 3rd, 2008, 5:50 pm
Contact:

Re: Getting Bodies into Seats At Criss Angel: Believe

Postby Timothy Drake » April 5th, 2009, 12:45 am

Richard Kaufman wrote:The difference between what Walt Disney did with his animated films (he did create the medium of the feature-length animated film) and his better live-action films (So Dear to My Heart, Song of the South, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, and Mary Poppins, to name but a few) is that they were not the work of a hack--or even of one man. They were the work of large teams of people whom Disney broght together. The films were acclaimed by critics and public alike.

Andrew Lloyd Weber's shows were routinely roasted by critics, who saw them as poorly written with schlock music and lyrics. Yes, people went to see most of them in droves, but that proves nothing to me except that they were financially successful. And they are now mostly dated and can be seen for the tripe they were. In my theater-going days in New York City I saw Cats and Les Miz, along with every Sondheim show that opened as I grew up. The Sondheim stuff was great, thoughtful, full of intellect and emotion. The Weber stuff was just a lot of crap and failed in almost every way except for the sets and costumes.

Disney's films, on the other hand, have ripened with age. Even animated films such as Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan, and Sleeping Beauty--which were criticized at the time of their release as being less well crafted than his earlier films--have now been recognized as classics of the genre.



Again I'll clarify... I didn't say Walt Disney I said.. The Disney Company who gave us such classics as direct to video Cinderella 2, Bambi 2 and Jungle Book 2. Lets not forget the Gummi Bears. Who wants to talk Herbie Reloaded?

Best,

Tim

Jonathan Townsend
Posts: 8250
Joined: January 17th, 2008, 12:00 pm
Location: Westchester, NY
Contact:

Re: Getting Bodies into Seats At Criss Angel: Believe

Postby Jonathan Townsend » April 5th, 2009, 12:48 am

Funny the way a name becomes an anamatronic icon for the man who authorized and designed the thing.
Mundus vult decipi -per Caleb Carr's story Killing Time

User avatar
NCMarsh
Posts: 1223
Joined: February 16th, 2008, 12:00 pm
Favorite Magician: Devant, Wonder, Richiardi, Benson, DeKolta, Teller, Harbin, Durham, Caveney, Ben, Hoy, Berglas, Marceau
Location: Orlando, FL
Contact:

Re: Getting Bodies into Seats At Criss Angel: Believe

Postby NCMarsh » April 5th, 2009, 12:54 am

yes there was something similar to Disney World when Walt bought swampland in Florida. It's called Disney Land.


A good point ; )

deBono's thoughts are on...and there is a feeling of power in criticism, a cheap ego trip -- and you see it in full force on sports bulletin boards...where fat old guys with crappy jobs get to write condescendingly about wealthy, young, professional athletes...

I know how frustrating it was to get my first (and to date only) review of my theater show...which began "I'm usually rather tepid about magic shows, but I have to admit I had a good time"...then spent two paragraphs talking about the theater and the other events coming up, then commented that the show was the perfect running time for "an afternoon diversion"...she sat through a one hour show, and spent less than two complete sentences on the content of that hour.

it was humbling to realize that this thing that I have poured years into, and that is really the driving passion in my life, is somebody else's afternoon diversion...and it is a fair description of what I do...

and that's the deal for us as creators/performers...we're putting our passion and work out there...and then it is out of our hands and people get to make of it whatever they will...love, hate, or indifference...

(re-reading the above, I should be clear: I'm not in the least saying that the review of my show was a petty power trip like deBono's referring to; I only mean that I understand that sense of: this person who just sits back and may not have created anything, likely never invested the years of work that goes into our work, can assume a kind of superiority over the work just by virtue of having a pen)

that said, I think it is out of respect for the hard work of creation that words like "masterpiece" mean something...that if we dilute them by throwing them around we take away from the creators who deserve that...that doesn't mean I'm right not to think ALW's work deserves the adjective, but it does mean that I am right to articulate the view that it doesn't deserve it

N.

Timothy Drake
Posts: 117
Joined: November 3rd, 2008, 5:50 pm
Contact:

Re: Getting Bodies into Seats At Criss Angel: Believe

Postby Timothy Drake » April 5th, 2009, 1:02 am

NCMarsh wrote:
that said, I think it is out of respect for the hard work of creation that words like "masterpiece" mean something...that if we dilute them by throwing them around we take away from the creators who deserve that...that doesn't mean I'm right not to think ALW's work deserves the adjective, but it does mean that I am right to articulate the view that it doesn't deserve it

N.


Ok Nathan,

I'll give you that. Maybe " Masterpiece" is over used and maybe it doesn't apply to Phantom. I'll retract that and simply say I really enjoyed Phantom and look forward to seeing it the next time I am in Vegas. I caught Les Mis for the 6th time recently ( it had been 15 years since I last saw it) and didn't find it at all dated as Richard suggested. Its a case of different strokes for different folks I guess. Ain't variety grand. If we all liked the same thing it'd be a mighty boring world.

Best,

Tim

David Alexander
Posts: 1549
Joined: January 17th, 2008, 12:00 pm
Location: Aurora IL

Re: Getting Bodies into Seats At Criss Angel: Believe

Postby David Alexander » April 5th, 2009, 1:26 am

Nathan,

A good review is a good review. She bought her ticket, sat through the show, enjoyed it (was diverted for a time) and left feeling like she'd gotten her money's worth.

We aren't creating the cure for cancer nor are we saving the world. We are providers of entertainment... a momentary diversion from people's everyday lives. We take people out of themselves for a short period of time.

That should be satisfying enough...that and being paid to do it helps too.

User avatar
NCMarsh
Posts: 1223
Joined: February 16th, 2008, 12:00 pm
Favorite Magician: Devant, Wonder, Richiardi, Benson, DeKolta, Teller, Harbin, Durham, Caveney, Ben, Hoy, Berglas, Marceau
Location: Orlando, FL
Contact:

Re: Getting Bodies into Seats At Criss Angel: Believe

Postby NCMarsh » April 5th, 2009, 1:47 am

David,

Yeah, I agree and that's how I felt about it after giving it some thought. I just meant that I understand a part of where deBartolo is coming from.

Best,

N.

User avatar
CraigMitchell
Posts: 1581
Joined: January 17th, 2008, 12:00 pm
Location: Magic
Contact:

Re: Getting Bodies into Seats At Criss Angel: Believe

Postby CraigMitchell » April 5th, 2009, 4:21 am

Hi Richard

Don't know how we got from Criss Angel to musicals ... but ...

You write:

"Les Mis was a piece of crap, too. Andrew Lloyd Weber is never even mentioned in the same breathe as Stephen Sondheim. Weber is a hack who cranks out trash to please the public"

Just so there is no confusion - I assume you are aware that Webber ( not Weber ;-) ) had nothing to do with Les Mis ? Alain Boubil, Claude-Michel Schonberg & Herbert Kretzmer were responsible for music & lyrics.

I'm afraid I too am going to have to disagree with you ... Phantom and Les Mis are both iconic examples of popular contemporary musical theatre and surely stood the test of time when most productions come and go within months.

By all means they are ENORMOUSLY commercially successful. Critics ( such as yourself ) may not enjoy or appreciate them - but to call them "mostly dated and can be seen for the tripe they were" is a sweeping statement and a minority opinion. You also fail to substantiate your view.

Dated in what sense ? I've seen both recently and find the subject matter ( particularly in Les Mis ) universal in application.

I suppose it depends what your definition of 'good' is ?

Les Mis was nominated for twelve Tony Awards, winning eight, including Best Musical and Best Original Score. It is the third longest-running Broadway show in history. Phantom won both the Olivier Award and Tony Award for Best Musical along with a host of others. These awards did not take 'financial success' into account and were all received during their debut years.

The fact that you personally don't appreciate Les Mis or Lloyd Webbers' work is fine ... perhaps you have a preference for American musical theatre versus the British mega-musical but your statements such as "Les Mis was a piece of crap ... Weber is a hack who cranks out trash" are simplistic and so lacking in sensibility that if coming from anyone else, probably would have been ignored completely. These comments speak far more of the critic than they do of anything else.

But what does this have to do with Criss Angel :-)

Bob Farmer
Posts: 2553
Joined: January 17th, 2008, 12:00 pm
Location: Short card above selection.

Re: Getting Bodies into Seats At Criss Angel: Believe

Postby Bob Farmer » April 5th, 2009, 9:11 am

I'm with Richard -- Andrew Lloyd Webber's work is a great big, tedious bore, sappy and too stupid to live on. Dragged to CATS by a friend, I fell asleep. Webber and Sondheim are as different as Lawrence Welk and Duke Ellington.

Pepka
Posts: 412
Joined: May 4th, 2008, 9:40 am

Re: Getting Bodies into Seats At Criss Angel: Believe

Postby Pepka » April 5th, 2009, 10:07 am

It's interesting to hear this argument with broadway shows. For years many of us have argued over things like sponge balls. Is Phantom the sponge ball routine of broadway? Eugene makes a great point when he says, "This is a point where art and commerce clash." Yeah, we can get people to scream, but they're SPONGE BALLS! How many starving actors would turn down a role in Phantom because it's Phantom? For the record, I love Phantom, and do don't do sponge balls.

User avatar
Richard Kaufman
Posts: 25326
Joined: July 18th, 2001, 12:00 pm
Favorite Magician: Theodore DeLand
Location: Washington DC
Contact:

Re: Getting Bodies into Seats At Criss Angel: Believe

Postby Richard Kaufman » April 5th, 2009, 10:38 am

Commercial success rarely equates to good. Look at the Dark Knight. A stupendously good movie that made a huge amount of money: it's the exception to the rule. But does it get any awards from Oscar? Only one for a dead actor (who actually deserved it). Everyone else? Ignored. So don't tell me how many awards Les Miz, Phantom, Miss Saigon, Cats, Starlight Express, or any other crap British "mega-musical" has won. They are meaningless.

Les Miz was so bad that I thought it had to have been done by the hack Webber. It had the same overloaded "mega-musical" crap credo of style over substance. Awful slop.

If you enjoy this type of crap, that's fine. I'm glad you simply went to the theater and helped support live theater.

I like horror movies. The difference between us is that I recognize that most of the horror movies that are made are crap. I like them anyway.
Subscribe today to Genii Magazine

User avatar
AJM
Posts: 1219
Joined: January 17th, 2008, 12:00 pm
Location: Scotland

Re: Getting Bodies into Seats At Criss Angel: Believe

Postby AJM » April 5th, 2009, 10:40 am

I've followed some bizarre threads on the Forum in my time and we have a couple of crackers this weekend - this one and the guy on the other thread who is threatening to burn all RK's books.

Anyways - I like Pepsi and I like Coca Cola, but which is best?

Cheers

Andrew
Corner-person Begrudger

User avatar
CraigMitchell
Posts: 1581
Joined: January 17th, 2008, 12:00 pm
Location: Magic
Contact:

Re: Getting Bodies into Seats At Criss Angel: Believe

Postby CraigMitchell » April 5th, 2009, 10:55 am

Richard, I'm curious as to how you personally define what constitutes 'good' musical theatre ? What is your barometer for excellence when it comes to theatre ? We've removed commercial success, popular opinion as well as theatrical awards from the equation ...

The same line can be taken as to what barometer you use to determine what is a 'good' magic show ?

I love Phantom, Les Mis, Billy Elliot and a host of others - but think Cats is horribly boring - but don't believe Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber is a 'mediocre and disdained writer' ( or as you put it - a 'hack' ) In fact - he seems to have done fairly well in the respect department :-)

David Alexander
Posts: 1549
Joined: January 17th, 2008, 12:00 pm
Location: Aurora IL

Re: Getting Bodies into Seats At Criss Angel: Believe

Postby David Alexander » April 5th, 2009, 11:07 am

Andrew Lloyd Webber a hack? Ah, to have that level of hackdom I suspect that many here on the Genii Forum would happily sell their mothers.

As Craig pointed out, Richies opinion is decidedly in the minority and a lot of other people think differently about Webber's work. For example: He has a current career total of seven Tony Awards, three Grammys, an Academy Award, an Emmy, seven Oliviers, a Golden Globe, and a Kennedy Center honor.

He was given a knighthood in 1992 which was followed by a peerage so he is Baron Lloyd-Webber.

About Phantom its done alright, running over 9,000 performances in the West End of London and pulling in over $5 billion in its world-wide performance history.

My wife and I saw Phantom live twice at the Los Angeles Music Center and enjoyed it both times. After the second time we were given a private backstage tour to see all the automated effects. The show was highly computerized with, at the time, the most dangerous stunt then being performed on the stage the Phantoms vanish during the Masquerade scene. It was an automated trap with two men at the bottom. They had approximately two seconds to pull the heavily made-up actor off the lift before it was sent back up. There was no margin for error.

Cats did OK, too, with Webber doing the music, lyrics by T.S. Eliot and Trevor Nunn. Cats ran in London for 21 years and on Broadway for 18, the second longest-running show in Broadway history. It won an Olivier and Tony as Best Musical in the respective countries. This is in addition to endless touring companies around the world.

By contrast, the only magic-themed show (a musical, not a straight magic show) that shows up on the Broadway success radar is The Magic Show that ran a respectable 55 months with 1920 performances, plus a number of touring companies.

As for straight magic, Dante, in Sim Sala Bim, did 54 performances in 1940, Milbourne Christopher did 8 performances in 1954, Harry Blackstone, Jr. did 104 performances in 1980, and David Copperfield did 76 performances in 1996.

Timothy Drake
Posts: 117
Joined: November 3rd, 2008, 5:50 pm
Contact:

Re: Getting Bodies into Seats At Criss Angel: Believe

Postby Timothy Drake » April 5th, 2009, 11:32 am

Richard Kaufman wrote:Commercial success rarely equates to good. Look at the Dark Knight. A stupendously good movie that made a huge amount of money: it's the exception to the rule.


I thought it sucked other than Heaths performance. I loved Batman Begins but felt that Dark Knight fell into exactly the type of overrated crap that you say Phantom is. After Batman Begins getting it right, Dark Knight was the biggest disappointments of a sequel I have ever seen. I guess when it comes to taste.. one mans Dark Knight CRAP is another mans treasure.

Tell me all you want how much you loved the Dark Knight but will you see it listed among film classics in years to come? I think not.

Best,

Tim

Roger M.
Posts: 1473
Joined: January 17th, 2008, 12:00 pm

Re: Getting Bodies into Seats At Criss Angel: Believe

Postby Roger M. » April 5th, 2009, 12:26 pm

I can't think of a recent movie that was more disappointing than "Dark Knight". I thought it was the height of overblown hollywood garbage.

But of course you're free to ignore that opinion, as it's just another magician offering up a personal viewpoint.........something this thread is full of.

Of course, trying to sell ones personal viewpoint as a "hard fact" is where this thread repeatedly goes off the rails.

Bob Farmer
Posts: 2553
Joined: January 17th, 2008, 12:00 pm
Location: Short card above selection.

Re: Getting Bodies into Seats At Criss Angel: Believe

Postby Bob Farmer » April 5th, 2009, 12:36 pm

Webber could be elected king of the world -- he's still Lawrence Welk to me. There is a whole contingent of terribly successful musicians who are just terrible and they all seem to be in the same "easy-listening" overblown class. There's Webber, Kenny G, that goofy Austrian guy with the violin and the 2,000-piece orchestra, James Last, Abba --

There's no accounting for taste, so no one's opinion here will be swayed. We, at the upper level of consciousness, will go away now and perhaps spend an afternoon listening to Sondheim, Coltrane or Howlin' Wolf. Others, will dry their eyes with a tissue, sip a bit of white wine, and soak up that "wunnerful" rendition of "Memory" by Grizabella the Glamour Cat and think, "How could anyone say such awful things about Andy? They're beasts -- just beasts!!"

Timothy Drake
Posts: 117
Joined: November 3rd, 2008, 5:50 pm
Contact:

Re: Getting Bodies into Seats At Criss Angel: Believe

Postby Timothy Drake » April 5th, 2009, 1:02 pm

Its a slow day in the forums today my friends. LOL

What was this thread about again? Oh Yeah... BeLIEve.

I'm thinking Richard is pretty close to being right ( even though he has terrible taste in movies and broadway..lol ) when he talks of the future of BeLIEve. I can't see many alternatives for Cirque.

Best,

Tim

User avatar
Richard Kaufman
Posts: 25326
Joined: July 18th, 2001, 12:00 pm
Favorite Magician: Theodore DeLand
Location: Washington DC
Contact:

Re: Getting Bodies into Seats At Criss Angel: Believe

Postby Richard Kaufman » April 5th, 2009, 1:13 pm

Sundays are usually slow on the Forum.

Though how you can say I have terrible taste for the theater when I hold Stephen Sondheim in highest esteem seems a bit over the top.

And the only thing you know about my taste in movies is that I like horror films (good and bad). You know nothing about what other movies I watch (except that I thought the Dark Knight was superb).

Oh, yeah, unfortunately I think Criss Angel is toast. No more Mindfreak on A&E after the fifth season. No more show in Vegas. Wonder what he'll be doing a year from now?
Subscribe today to Genii Magazine

David Alexander
Posts: 1549
Joined: January 17th, 2008, 12:00 pm
Location: Aurora IL

Re: Getting Bodies into Seats At Criss Angel: Believe

Postby David Alexander » April 5th, 2009, 1:13 pm

This smells like the argument between art and commerce as if one were good and the other badthat popular and successful equates to bad while something that is little understood by the general public is both artistic and good.

Broadway shows are, by their nature, commercial enterprises. Fail to draw a large paying audience and you close quickly. It is called show BUSINESS for good reason. Stephen Sondheim has been raised as an example but it should be noted that he is also quite good at giving the public what they want to see and will support with West Side Story, Gypsy, Into the Woods, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum and other shows. (Hes also had a few short-lived productions, so not everything he touches is gold.)

Back to Art vs Commerce - Unfortunately, art is too often disguised therapy that no one wants to look atbeneficial (sometimes) to the artist but boring, often self-indulgent, and inconsequential to the public at large.

Professionals have an agreed-upon responsibility to their clients when they take their money to deliver a certain level of entertainment. That the work can be presented artistically is a bonus, not a necessity.

The amateur who sees himself as an artiste has no such responsibility. He performs to satisfy his own needs, not those of his audience. When his supposedly advanced sleight of hand fails to elicit the response that a well-executed sponge ball/sponge rabbit routine does in the hands of a working professional, the artistic amateur is disdainful of the other performer and the audiencethat they are beneath him and unworthy of his art. Such performers become, in his view, hacks.

This attitude is perfectly summed up in two examples: See William Goldmans character played by Anthony Hopkins in Magic who screams at his audience that it took him a thousand hours to perfect a move. No one in his audience cared as his emphasis was on something they neither knew nor cared about.

When I was in my early twenties, studying with Frakson and working hard at becoming a professional, a small homely dry cleaner and amateur magician/politician in a number of organizations actually told me that he didnt become a professional because I didnt want to prostitute my art. Amazing.

Ive read reviews of shows describing acts with one being successful in entertaining an audience while another performer who had better chops was not as well received. The ability to execute a sleight (which is how I view the concept of chops in this context) has little to do with the entertainment value of a performance.

Edgar Bergen was far from being technically proficient as a ventriloquist but he had a successful decades-long career because people liked him and what he did despite the fact that there were dozens of other contemporary vents that had better technique than Bergen.

In magic there are dozens if not hundreds of technically proficient guys who couldnt entertain their way out of a paper bag and yet they are viewed by the amateur community, venerated in some cases, as examples to follow. They arent unless you want to be a hobbyist (and never charge for performing), not so much if you want to make a living performing as an entertainer who uses the medium of magic. Theres nothing wrong with being a hobbyist as long as you never hold yourself out as a professional and charge for performing.

That, and the Dark Knight was about 15-20 minutes too long, with the credits running long after the story should have ended.

User avatar
Richard Kaufman
Posts: 25326
Joined: July 18th, 2001, 12:00 pm
Favorite Magician: Theodore DeLand
Location: Washington DC
Contact:

Re: Getting Bodies into Seats At Criss Angel: Believe

Postby Richard Kaufman » April 5th, 2009, 1:21 pm

David, I do sponge balls. But I draw the line at bunnies.
Subscribe today to Genii Magazine

Timothy Drake
Posts: 117
Joined: November 3rd, 2008, 5:50 pm
Contact:

Re: Getting Bodies into Seats At Criss Angel: Believe

Postby Timothy Drake » April 5th, 2009, 1:29 pm

Richard Kaufman wrote:Sundays are usually slow on the Forum.

Though how you can say I have terrible taste for the theater when I hold Stephen Sondheim in highest esteem seems a bit over the top.

And the only thing you know about my taste in movies is that I like horror films (good and bad). You know nothing about what other movies I watch (except that I thought the Dark Knight was superb).


Richard,

You thought the Dark Knight was superb.... thats enough reason for me to think you have terrible taste. LOL Its the same logic that allows you to think my taste is terrible because I like Webber. When it really comes down to it ...thats why they call it taste. I hate Olives with a passion but don't fault someone else for loving them. Different tastes is all it is.

Back to Believe. Interesting question you pose about what Criss will be doing in a year. He still has quite a lot of fan base so if he's clever he will exploit that a bit longer. He has shown the ability to do that for much longer than I thought possible to this point. The question will be... when his 15 minutes are done.... really done.. will HE know it?

Best,

Tim

David Alexander
Posts: 1549
Joined: January 17th, 2008, 12:00 pm
Location: Aurora IL

Re: Getting Bodies into Seats At Criss Angel: Believe

Postby David Alexander » April 5th, 2009, 1:40 pm

I think most of us understand that Criss' 15 minutes were up some time ago. From what I've been told about his personality, Criss will never understand when the clock ran out for him.

While you can base a certain amount of success on a fan base for a cable show, it's a different market in a place like Vegas. There you have to attract and satisfy people who are not fans. Criss isn't coming close to doing that.

I'm sure that there have been serious conversations between the owners of Cirque and the Luxor trying to answer three questions: Is Criss manageable? If so, can the show be fixed? If not, when do we cut our losses?

It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

User avatar
Richard Kaufman
Posts: 25326
Joined: July 18th, 2001, 12:00 pm
Favorite Magician: Theodore DeLand
Location: Washington DC
Contact:

Re: Getting Bodies into Seats At Criss Angel: Believe

Postby Richard Kaufman » April 5th, 2009, 1:43 pm

If my source is right, you won't have to wait much longer.
Subscribe today to Genii Magazine

Timothy Drake
Posts: 117
Joined: November 3rd, 2008, 5:50 pm
Contact:

Re: Getting Bodies into Seats At Criss Angel: Believe

Postby Timothy Drake » April 5th, 2009, 1:49 pm

Richard Kaufman wrote:If my source is right, you won't have to wait much longer.


Will I be able to see the show in late May? What's your best guess?

Best,

Tim

User avatar
Richard Kaufman
Posts: 25326
Joined: July 18th, 2001, 12:00 pm
Favorite Magician: Theodore DeLand
Location: Washington DC
Contact:

Re: Getting Bodies into Seats At Criss Angel: Believe

Postby Richard Kaufman » April 5th, 2009, 2:01 pm

Not sure: it depends on box office. If the Luxor discovers that it's suddenly selling more hotel rooms because it's tossing in free tickets to Believe, then it may hang on longer.
Subscribe today to Genii Magazine

User avatar
NCMarsh
Posts: 1223
Joined: February 16th, 2008, 12:00 pm
Favorite Magician: Devant, Wonder, Richiardi, Benson, DeKolta, Teller, Harbin, Durham, Caveney, Ben, Hoy, Berglas, Marceau
Location: Orlando, FL
Contact:

Re: Getting Bodies into Seats At Criss Angel: Believe

Postby NCMarsh » April 5th, 2009, 2:19 pm

I'm curious as to how you personally define what constitutes 'good' musical theatre ? What is your barometer for excellence when it comes to theatre ? We've removed commercial success, popular opinion as well as theatrical awards from the equation


Of course none of this is objective -- and that's a good thing. Art is not science, thank god.

A helpful distinction, that I think can approach objectivity, besides that between "I like it" and "it's good" (there is plenty of bad theater that I can enjoy) is "the craftsman makes what he knows can sell, the artist sells what he makes"

The Webber work, and this is again -- and only can be -- my opinion, seems written to sell...musically, it shares many of the characteristics of music that always sell well...light, fluffy, melodies that can easily be hummed...the shows are full of gimmicky spectacle -- often loosely connected to the plot -- so people can walk out humming the overture and talking about the helicopter landing on stage

The Dark Knight shares the kind of spectacle that drives a lot of Summer action movies...but what sets it apart -- what people talk about while leaving the theater -- is Ledger's performance...his Joker is clearly an execution of an inner vision and there is a richness and depth to what he's doing that isn't there with work primarily designed for commerce...audiences bought what Ledger made

The best live show I've seen was the '05 NY revival of Sweeney with Michael Cerveris and Patti LuPone...bare stage...the performers are the orchestra -- playing instruments that converge with the characters...

There was no gimmickry to rest on...no helicopter landing on stage, no vanishing guy in a mask, no light pop ballads...you are watching people transform themselves into remarkable characters in a powerful story, while making music...that's all, and it will stick with me for the rest of my life

and in looking at Webber's work, that's a question worth asking: could you do Phantom on a bare stage and get a standing O (and the Tonys that this particular production got as well)?

Musically, there's a sense that Sondheim's goal isn't to distract or entertain you...he is exploring ideas that interest him...rich dissonances with surprising resolutions...interesting harmonies...the music stays with you when you leave not because of an addictive, syrupy melody...but because it sticks to your bones

my .02,

N.

User avatar
Richard Kaufman
Posts: 25326
Joined: July 18th, 2001, 12:00 pm
Favorite Magician: Theodore DeLand
Location: Washington DC
Contact:

Re: Getting Bodies into Seats At Criss Angel: Believe

Postby Richard Kaufman » April 5th, 2009, 3:08 pm

Shakespeare performed on a bare stage answers that question as well.
Subscribe today to Genii Magazine

User avatar
NCMarsh
Posts: 1223
Joined: February 16th, 2008, 12:00 pm
Favorite Magician: Devant, Wonder, Richiardi, Benson, DeKolta, Teller, Harbin, Durham, Caveney, Ben, Hoy, Berglas, Marceau
Location: Orlando, FL
Contact:

Re: Getting Bodies into Seats At Criss Angel: Believe

Postby NCMarsh » April 5th, 2009, 3:51 pm

David,

I think we were writing our replies at the same time, so I missed yours. I do think that "commerce vs. art" is over-simplifying it.

I think the question is not whether commerce enters the picture, but when.

There is a difference between someone following an inner-vision, and then a large audience buying that work because they find it worthwhile; and someone looking at what audiences have bought in the past and deliberately crafting something to fit that pattern.

I'm a craftsman and I appreciate great craft -- but that doesn't put it on the same level as great art.

N.

David Alexander
Posts: 1549
Joined: January 17th, 2008, 12:00 pm
Location: Aurora IL

Re: Getting Bodies into Seats At Criss Angel: Believe

Postby David Alexander » April 5th, 2009, 4:00 pm

The Magic Show and Chorus Line were productions that made lots of money because the staging was clever and minimal and the music was catchy.

The Magic Show was in one act on, essentially, a bare stage and it did several years worth of business and made a return for its investors. Chorus Line, much the same, with over 6,000 performances in its original incarnation plus road shows and a recent revival. It's done well for its producers.

Some people like to see spectacle and large production numbers but this brings lots of risk for the investors. As previously reported, Phantom satisfies these needs to the tune of a $5 billion gross worldwide, but it was a gamble as it was expensive to stage.

Merlin, which was, as I understand it, the most expensive musical up to 1980, was around $10 million to stage. It had 69 previews and 199 performances before it closed, not nearly enough to make it profitable.

Sondheim has had his own turkeys. "The Frogs" which was an adaption of a comedy written by Aristophanes lasted 34 previews and 92 performances. "Anyone Can Whistle" came and went in 12 previews and 9 performances."Merrily we Roll Along" which had 52 previews and then opened November 16 and closed November 28 with 16 performances.

So, even with Sondheim writing music and/or lyrics, there's no guarantee that what the artist produces will find resonance with the public.


Return to “Buzz”