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How to Fix: The Rock Musical

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1. Stop using decades-old albums as source material (as in Good Vibrations, in previews December 20). Too often, they serve as nostalgic scores to buttress weak, unrelated plots. What’s good for the box office—tapping into the Abba or Billy Joel fan base—isn’t good for the work.

2. Look to smaller, younger productions for novel ideas. That’s where the last genuinely new musical, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, came from, and that’s where another potential winner, the teen drama BARE (currently struggling for Off Broadway financing), started out.

3. Acknowledge hip-hop’s dominance. The pop-music landscape has changed a lot since 1995, when Rent hit Broadway. Youth culture is, to a degree that few grown-ups understand, driven not by rock but by rap. Brooklyn is an earnest attempt, but watered-down R&B doesn’t quite cut it. How about a rap musical with a story? Casting P. Diddy is an okay start, but it’s not enough.


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