Beetlejuice v. Music Man
Written by Kayla Ann Mullins on February 12, 2020
Do we need another revival of The Music Man? Well, the show has already been on Broadway twice, the most recent revival being in 2000. When The Music Man was first on Broadway, it was new and interesting. The original Broadway production won Best Leading Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Supporting Actor, and Best Musical at the 1958 Tony Awards. However, the 2000 revival was awarded zero accolades at the 2000 Tony Awards. Along with being featured on the Broadway stage twice, The Music Man has been made into two different movies, one in 1962 and another in 2003. With all this content, does the world need another Music Man revival?
I would say no, no we do not. The Music Man is not a bad musical. It’s fun, lighthearted, filled with interesting music and a decent storyline. But it’s also not revolutionary. The story has been done in many different ways before and after the original production. Con-man falls for a beautiful woman and she straightens him out. Not only is it a common storyline for movies and television, it’s everywhere in musicals. Guys and Dolls, Grease, and South Pacific all have versions of the plot. Even Little Shop of Horrors, Oklahoma!, and The Addams Family have similar or inverted versions of that story in them. It’s common, it’s old, and it isn’t something we need on the Broadway stage.
Beyond that, Music Man was written in 1958. The show still holds some of the misogyny and racism of that day. Marian the librarian is fulfilled by a man. Without Professor Harold Hill, Marian is seen as an outsider. Both of Marian’s first two songs, Piano Lesson and Goodnight My Someone, are about how Marian is just waiting for the right man. Marian is also accused of sleeping with the man who leaves her the library. This accusation tarnishes her reputation in the town. These are wildly misogynistic ideologies, we don’t need to seem them on the stage again.
Another problem with the 2020 Music Man revival is that the new show will cause the end of one of Broadway’s current hit musical Beetlejuice. I should mention, Beetlejuice did not win any Tony Awards during their first season, but they have been financially successful. Most of their shows are sold out every night. Over winter break, I went to New York City and saw Beetlejuice along with some other shows. Of all the shows I saw, Beetlejuice was the only one with a line wrapping the building before the show. People like Beetlejuice, they are excited to go see it. However, despite their monetary success, The Music Man revival is going to be replacing the show in September of this year.
So if the world doesn’t need another Music Man and if Beetlejuice is successful, why is there going to be a revival? The answer is two words: Hugh Jackman. Wolverine, the Greatest Showman, Les Miserable Hugh Jackman. Jackman has been cast as the titular character, the music man himself, in this revival. To be honest, I quite like Hugh Jackman as an actor. Whilst the plot of The Greatest Showman was weak, Jackman’s acting was stunning. He’s good at what he does. That being said I don’t want to see Jackman as Professor Harold Hill if that means I lose Alex Brightman’s killer performance as the demon Betelgeuse or Sophia Ann Caruso’s stunning portrayal of Lydia Deetz.
In other circumstances I would be neutral, maybe even just barely excited, about a Hugh Jackman Music Man revival. But due to everything that this new show would effect, I’m honestly upset by it. Beetlejuice is an interesting story about grief, found family, and death. The show manages to bring these dark subjects into the limelight but also remain absolutely hilarious. The Music Man is a story we’ve all already heard before. And sure, it’s not a bad one, but it is a boring one.