Category: Musical

5 Celebrities Who Flopped On Broadway And The West End

Sometimes the stars who dominate the big screen can’t see to hack it on the Great White Way. The stage demands a different acting style than the screen. On stage, you’re always live, and you don’t get to take another take, much less dozens of takes. Some actors thrive under this challenge, while others can’t seem to make it work. Check out these five silver-screen stars who flopped on Broadway and the West End. 

1. Bruce Willis

In 2015, Bruce Willis joined Lauria Metcalf on Broadway in a stage adaptation of Stephan King’s Misery. Although Metcalf’s acting was brilliant as always, the action star failed to deliver. His portrayal of Paul Sheldon, an injured writer kept hostage by a psychotic fan, did not engage the audience. In films and even on TV, Willis has always known how to keep the energy rolling, but on stage, his acting was flat and passive. 

2. A. Pacino

A method actor, Al Pacino has been impressing critics since the 1970s. His most famous role is his Academy Award-winning portrayal of Michael Corleone in the Godfather, but he’s starred in dozens of films in his 50+ year career. He’s one of the few actors who’s snagged an Academy Award, an Emmy, and a Tony, but his two-time Tony wins came in 1969 and 1977. The last time he took to the stage in 2015, he was far from his earlier successes. 

In David Mamet’s the China Doll, Pacino couldn’t seem to remember his lines, and rumor has it that he used a teleprompter. Critics called his performance lurching, stammering, and hard to follow. Since then, Pacino has done a few films, and he’s ventured onto the stage in Pasadena, California, but he hasn’t been invited back to Broadway. 

3. Julia Roberts

Known for her vivacity, Julia Roberts makes the world smile when she’s on the big screen, but unfortunately, she forgot to bring her shine to Broadway. When she starred in the 2006 play Three Days of Rain, she seemed stiff and self-conscious next to her co-stars Paul Rudd and Bradley Cooper. Although she can breathe life into even the most static film characters, she seemed barely acquainted with the character she played on stage.

4. Shia LaBeouf

Actor, filmmaker, and performance artist Shia LaBeouf has been winning awards since he got his start as a child actor on the Disney Channel. He’s no stranger to in-person performances. With his performance art collaborative, he did an installation piece that involved standing in a Los Angeles gallery crying for six days while wearing a paper bag that said “I’m not famous anymore.”

But on the other side of the continent, La Beouf hasn’t had as much luck. In fact, his Broadway flop was so spectacular that he never even made it onto the stage. Cast in Lyle Kressler’s play Orphans, LaBeouf couldn’t get along with the show’s star Alec Baldwin, an actor who transitions beautifully from little screen to big screen to stage and back again. LaBeouf left the show before opening night, and a year later, he made headlines for disrupting a performance of Cabaret. 

5. Katie Holmes

Katie Holmes is known for being sweet and engaging, but on Broadway, that wasn’t the case. In 2012, she played the sister in Theresa Rebeck’s play about a man who comes home to visit his sister and ailing father. Although critics noted that she seemed a little more comfortable on stage than her last Broadway attempt in an Arthur Miller play four years earlier, her performance didn’t get much love. Critics called it a shrill, one-note performance. 

The Real Life ‘Producers’? The 5 Worst Major Musicals Of All Time

In the Producers, down-and-out producer Max Bialystock and his accountant Leo Bloom cook up an idea to bring on investors, produce a Broadway flop, and pocket the money. Committed to absurdity, they put on a show called ‘Springtime for Hitler” and hilarity ensued. While most real-life Broadway flops are unintentional, they’re often absurd, and for most theater fans, they bring this classic musical to mind. Check out these five Broadway musical flops. 

1. Thou Shalt Not 

Thou Shalt Not was an ambitious piece of theater. It was an adaptation of French writer Emile Zola’s 1867 novel Therese Raquin and featured music from Harry Connick Jr. The play explores what happens when you break the sixth and seventh commandments. But apparently, audiences didn’t want a play about murder, adultery, and tap dancing. Ironically, Susan Stroman directed this play right after having great success with a production of The Producers, but the success didn’t translate. Thou Shalt Not went dark after just 85 performances. 

2. Urban Cowboy

Urban Cowboy followed the story of a young country boy who moves to the city to work at an oil refinery. He spends his nights at a honky tonk, where he meets a young lass who can’t decide if she wants his hard-working cowboy boots and an ex-con’s shoes under her bed. The music comes from country legends like Chalie Daniels and Clint Black, but unfortunately, the show flopped. The characters were undeveloped, the jokes were dumb, and although the soundtrack featured country classics, it wasn’t enough to get anyone’s foot tapping. 

3. Dracula

Adaptations of old horror novels have done well on Broadway. In fact, just before launching Dracula, its composer Frank Wildhorn had great success with his adaptation of the old classic Jekyll & Hyde. However, that success didn’t bleed into this vampire musical. Dracula sings about being lonely, but it doesn’t come across as authentic. Instead, critics said this stage production felt like an unnecessarily long Meatloaf video, and they called it a dunderheaded pseudo-romance. 

4. Lennon

From Buddy Holly to Bruce Springsteen and many stops in between, the jukebox musical is a popular mainstay on Broadway, so a show about Lennon was sure to be a hit, right? Unfortunately, not. The 2005 musical Lennon only made it through 49 performances. The script turned Lennon into a saint, and it heavy-handedly used a 70s storyline to comment on current events. Even people who purposefully go out to see flops weren’t impressed. They wanted a car wreck, but as critics said, the motor didn’t even seem to start. 

5. Lestat

Based on Anne Rice’s infamous vampire Lestat and featuring a score written by Elton John and Bernie Taupin, Lestat was designed to delight fans of the vampire musical, but instead, it sucked ticket prices out of their wallets and failed to impress. Critics called this show maudlin and over-filled with kitsch. While Rice’s vampire novels and countless film adaptations have done well with these characters, this show flopped after just 39 lackluster performances.