NERDS: The Ripple Effect…
By Barbara & Scott Siegel
To coin a phrase, it takes a village to put on a Broadway musical. Apparently, it only takes one person who breaks his or her word to shut a Broadway musical down. The fiasco surrounding the cancellation of the musical Nerds is something that should be addressed by the entire Broadway community. That the lives (and livelihoods) of so many people can be so easily and arbitrarily savaged without any apparent recourse is simply not acceptable.
It’s understandable, if cruel, that a show can close on opening night when the critics kill it and the potential audience dries up. Everybody involved in the show loses their investment – the producers lose their investment of money, and the creative people lose their investment of time. But a situation like this, when everyone has committed themselves – and the people in the “trenches” having given up other jobs in order to commit to Nerds, losing months of potential income over a broken promise — that should not be permitted by the Broadway League, nor any of the craft unions. Whoever is responsible for allowing this to happen should be required to pay damages to the people who have been hurt.
If the producers that committed to Nerds failed to properly secure the money to put the show on, then they should be required to pay. If the entity that bailed on the show did so in bad faith, then that producer should be required to pay. If there is no legal mechanism in place to protect Broadway folk now, then something should be done to make sure that nothing like this happens again. Before another play or musical intending to come to Broadway fails to make it to the starting gate, agreements with all of the participating parties should be required to protect innocent people from getting hurt.
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On a related issue, an actress in Nerds, Patti Murin, wrote a wonderfully revealing blog essay about her experiences – both joyful and excruciating – regarding the immediate aftermath of her show being shut down. Full disclosure, Patti Murin appeared in one of Scott’s Broadway by the Year concerts at Town Hall several years ago. That said, Ms. Murin captured the emotional tightrope that performers have to walk between being public people and vulnerable human beings in a fish bowl.
Her description of the warm, enveloping embrace of the theater community, as so many friends and colleagues offered empathy, succor, beer, and pizza – and ultimately the equivalent of a shoulder to cry on — was tearfully joyful. By the same token, her punch in the nose to the chatboard bullies who hide behind anonymity while often writing nasty, and usually uninformed comments was refreshing in its raw honesty. Congrats to Patti Murin for rising to something one might call heroic. She’s a bold, talented writer as well as a bold, talented actress.