Theatre Lover's Journal for December 1998

Easter Parade

by John Kenrick

The dish on the long-discussed stage production of Easter Parade is getting scarier by the day. Now it seems that Tommy Tune has had second thoughts about the project.  He has just signed-up to star in the endless Las Vegas run of EFX, forcing Easter Parade to postpone indefinitely. This is the latest calamity to befall this project, which has changed writers and producers in the past few years of planning and re-planning. By this point it is clear that Easter Parade is in major trouble – so why don’t the latest team of producers do themselves a favor and let it go?

Well, at first glance, the show sounds like a great idea. After all, Hollywood built a number of hit screen musicals by raiding Irving Berlin’s song trunk – Alexander’s Ragtime Band, Holiday Inn and There’s No Business Like Show Business were all successful, but the best of the lot was MGM’s Easter Parade. With Fred Astaire, Judy Garland and Ann Miller heading the cast, and a plot about a vaudeville dance team (which made it almost too easy to fit in songs), Easter Parade is still a delightful film.

Which is part of the problem. Why ask people to pay $75 a seat to see a stage version of a film they can rent for $3.99? The proposed casting of Tommy Tune and Sandy Duncan is tempting, but can anyone honestly expect them to equal (let alone outshine) the legendary Astaire and Garland? Perfectly serviceable stage versions of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, Gigi and Singing In The Rain did poorly on Broadway for the same reason – despite added songs and good casts, there was no justification for staging something that was already a sensational film.

I wish the producers of Easter Parade luck – something every show needs, but something this show has had very little of so far. As for the beloved Tommy Tune, one hopes that after the disastrous ends met by his last two original musicals (Best Little Whorehouse Goes Public and Busker Alley) that his next project, whatever it is, will re-establish his once-sterling reputation.

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