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Monday, October 27, 2008

The Drums of Doom, Confirmed

posted by on October 27 at 10:56 AM


The Seattle Rep has just officially confirmed that it is canceling the last week of The Three Musketeers due to financial constraints.

From spokeslady Ilana Balint:

When we were planning this season we had an optimistic and aggressive outlook for the sales on this show so we built in an extra two weeks on this show. We normally run shows for 4 and a half weeks, and with The Three Musketeers we had an extra two weeks built in. Unfortunately, due to the economic downturn of late, our sales have not merited an extra week of performances. So, we painfully decided that it would be fiscally responsible of us to cancel the last week of performances.

For those commentors on the previous post who thought the Three Musketeers was “not exactly the canary in the coal mine”—it should’ve been an easy sell for families and the summer-blockbuster demographic: a familiar story, sword fights, etc. Whether or not the production worked (we didn’t think so), it should’ve been able to float on name-recognition and single tickets. Moreso than, say, Purgatorio or even The Imaginary Invalid.

The fact that it didn’t makes it very much the canary in the coal mine.

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With all due respect to the people in the show who've been working their collective asses off; the fact this was a rather pedestrian, middling selection on the Rep's part, combined with less-than-stellar reviews probably had as much, if not more to do with the lack of sales than the "economic downturn", which smacks of PR spin, and rationalizing by the Marketing Department.

After all, isn't the cardinal rule that, in times of economic uncertainty, audiences prefer escapist-type entertainment to take their mind off their troubles? I can't think of anything much more escapist than "The Three Musketeers". So, one would think, all other considerations being equal, audiences would have flocked to a show like this.

Posted by COMTE | October 27, 2008 11:22 AM

it's the cardinal richelieu rule, comte.

Posted by scary tyler moore | October 27, 2008 12:14 PM

Certainly, The Three Musketeers is much better than The Stranger gives it credit for.
But I suppose it's hip to needlessly pan things when it may not be EXACTLY to YOUR taste or if is does not present some kind of political discourse or overt social commentary going into an important election.
Get over yourselves. Some things are just meant to be fun.

Posted by Gay Seattle | October 27, 2008 12:26 PM

@3, I'll let style-arbiters like yourself judge the "hip"-ness of theater critique, but The Stranger was just doing its job. If I wanted credulous boosterism, I'd read the PI, the Times or

Posted by blank12357 | October 27, 2008 12:44 PM


That's the thing, though. It wasn't just "The Stranger" being "too hip for you", but Truzzi in the "Seattle PI" dismissed it as TV-inspired fluff; Berson in the "Seattle Times" was equally down on the production, stating, "despite the large ensemble of actors thrusting and parrying like mad to entertain you, this broadly slapstick "Three Musketeers" isn't as transporting or laugh-aloud funny as it strains so hard to be" among other criticisms.

It's pretty hard, even for The Rep, to pull in single-ticket purchasers when one of their shows gets panned this hard by the major critics in town. So, a single positive review on a blog site most typical Rep patrons are bound to have never even heard of, let alone perused, doesn't exactly qualify as a ringing endorsement.

Posted by COMTE | October 27, 2008 1:03 PM

I think the only 'canary and coal mine' analogy that works as far as the Rep is concerned is how directionless it is.

@3 I think has a point and there is nothing wrong with escapist fun. I believe "Night of the Living Dead" has done well, so too everything over at 5th Ave. "Three Musketeers" has a demise more rooted in poorly put together season. When I first saw that this is what was opening the season, my first thought was "why?". It has always seemed to be a show that is a shameless attempt at money grabbing. It isn't even really advertised as a play, it is advertised as "27 sword fights" or however many there are. It makes the Rep look more like a circus than theater.

"Three Musketeers" is a play, in my opinion, which only works in Rep with other classical plays. Either that or you sell it like a comedy or farce or, you know THEATER instead of a stage combat demonstration. It would be a great play for Seattle Shakes, Greenstage, SCT, even Book-It. Or if they were doing "Major Barbara" or "Mother Courage and Her Children" or "Henry V" (I am sort pulling plays out off the top of head I hope you get the idea).

That has more to do with the ticket sales than any economic crisis. It seems like a desperate and pandering show. That, I believe, turns off the casual theater goer and there is nothing really specific about the show that would draw in new theater goers (it really isn't currently in the popular culture, like say zombies).

All theaters need money and are going to be hit (unless of course they get a flood of donations from people making more than $250k to lower their taxes). However, I think "Three Musketeers" is more a result of marginally poor choice of show compounded by poor marketing campaign both of which were obviously expensive... and much easier to deconstruct after the fact.

Posted by GDC | October 27, 2008 1:52 PM

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