Broadway’s Top Ten Musical Flops

With the imminent re-opening of Spiderman: Turn Off the Dark, we look back on some of the most memorable failures in musical theater history

Stephen King's Carrie was a best-selling novel and a popular 1976 film, but it did not, however, make for an equally successful Broadway musical in 1988. (Time & Life Pictures / Getty Images)

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Daytime talk show host Rosie O’Donnell always made a point of highlighting the latest in Broadway entertainment on her late-afternoon television program, and she herself appeared on the Great White Way as Rizzo in the 1994 revival of Grease. With Taboo, a musical about 1980s performance artist, promoter, fashion designer and London nightclub personality Leigh Bowery, O’Donnell took on the role of the producer and used $10 million of her own money to bankroll the show, after seeing a version of the musical in London, where it had minor success. With a score by Boy George, formerly the lead singer of the British pop band Culture Club, the show was faulted for having a convoluted storyline overpopulated with underdeveloped characters. Themes of celebrity, drug addiction and sexual confusion may have made it a tougher sell to American theatergoers. Opening to mixed and negative reviews, and in spite of an aggressive advertising campaign, Taboo played 100 performances and closed at a total loss. As the character Max Bialystock said in The Producers: “Never put your own money in the show!”


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