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Top 10 Musicals that Bombed on Broadway

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Script written by George Pacheco Just because there's a big name attached to the broadway, doesn’t mean that it’ll translate to success! For this list we’re taking a look at musicals that bombed on Broadway. We’ve included musicals like Breakfast at Tiffanys, Dracula, Big, Taboo, Lestat, Spiderman-Turn Off the Dark, and Carrie Moose Murders.
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Top 10 Musicals that Bombed on Broadway


Well, they can't ALL be winners. Welcome to MsMojo, and today we're counting down our picks for the Top 10 Musicals that Bombed on Broadway.

For this list, we'll be ranking the most infamous musicals that debuted on Broadway to either massive critical backlash or public disinterest. We won't be considering the 1966 "Breakfast at Tiffany's" musical for this list, as that show never made it past the preview stage. We're also only focusing upon shows that eventually made it to that big stage and those bright lights, so productions that only stayed off Broadway will have to saved for another day.

#10: "The Rocky Horror Show" (1975)


Today, "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" is regarded as one of the most popular cult movies of all time. This reputation didn't extend to the original "Rocky Horror Show" musical however, or its initial run on Broadway. The show, with lyrics and music by Richard O'Brien, enjoyed great success in both London and L.A., but its run on Broadway didn't even make it to fifty showings before being shut down. Don't feel too bad for O'Brien and Co., though, because we hear that "Rocky Horror" did just fine on the revival circuit and the big screen.

#9: "Dracula, the Musical" (2004)


The Prince of Darkness may have been tailor made for silver screen, but Dracula hasn’t always translated well. Case in point? The reception to 2004's "Dracula," a show which packed houses during its California debut, but was lampooned by critics once it crossed coasts over to New York. "Dracula, The Musical" featured music by Frank Wildhorn and lyrics by Don Black and Christopher Hampton, both of which were criticized heavily by reviews at the time. Although "Dracula" did receive commercial attention for its inclusion of stage nudity, the show closed after a little over 150 performances.

#8: "Big" (1996)


As the team behind this Broadway bomb unfortunately discovered back in 1996, translating a cinematic success to the world of theater can be a “BIG” order. See what we did there? Sorry. "Big, the Musical" couldn't replicate the magic brought to the screen by actor Tom Hanks, and the show was an extremely costly endeavor, ultimately losing big time in the financial department. How much exactly? The entirety of its $10.3 million investment. There was a silver lining to all of this, though, as "Big" was nominated for five Tony Awards during its initial run, and was more successful during its national tour two years later.

#7: "Pipe Dream" (1955)


Today, Rodgers and Hammerstein are considered the gold standard when it comes to the classic music and lyrics of old Broadway. Not all of their shows were successful, however, as evidenced by the 1955 bomb titled "Pipe Dream." For starters, the duo balked at adapting the John Steinbeck novel's subject matter of prostitution and its partial setting of a bordello. This resistance could be seen in the show's lyrics and dialogue, and "Pipe Dream" hit a sour note with both audiences and critics, serving as an early failure in Rodgers and Hammerstein's collective career.

#6: "Taboo" (2003)


Pop icon Boy George put it all on the line when he released his musical, "Taboo," to London audiences back in 2002. One of the members of that audience was Rosie O'Donnell, who immediately took to the show, and set plans in motion to produce a Broadway version. A year later, "Taboo" opened on Broadway, but this time the reception wasn't so pleasant. The show was lambasted by critics, and closed up shop after a hundred performances. O'Donnell suffered a huge financial loss as a result of "Taboo's" failure, reportedly being out a whopping ten million dollars when all was said and done.

#5: "Dance of the Vampires" (2002)


The next musical on our list is another example of film not quite translating to the stage. "Dance of the Vampires" was an attempt by Meat Loaf collaborator Jim Steinman to adapt the German musical version of Roman Polanski's 1967 film "The Fearless Vampire Killers." The German version was a huge success both critically and commercially. This wasn't the case with Steinman's English adaptation, however, with excessive delays and behind the scenes drama reportedly causing severe friction between everyone involved. Steinman didn't even attend opening night, and "Dance of the Vampires" limped away from the Broadway stage after only 56 performances, at a an alleged $12 million loss.

#4: "Lestat" (2006)


Speaking of vampires, the next musical bomb on our list is based upon a more modern blood-sucker, the rock 'n roll creature of the night known as "Lestat." The musical was based upon the Anne Rice universe popularized in such novels as "Interview with the Vampire" and "The Vampire Lestat," and featured music and lyrics by Elton John and Bernie Taupin. The original run of "Lestat" was actually quite successful in San Francisco, but many of the elements and effects that wowed audiences were absent from the show that ran in New York. Ultimately, "Lestat" was a failure on Broadway, closing after 33 preview shows and 39 performances.

#3: "Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark" (2010)


Even those who don't tend to follow the world of Broadway might be familiar with this infamous musical, as word of its behind-the-scenes turmoil often made headlines. "Spiderman-Turn Off the Dark" was a 2010 musical which, on paper, possessed all of the elements required to be a hit. The show was about an established, classic comic book hero, and music and lyrics were being handled by megastars Bono and The Edge from U2. "Spiderman" was fraught with production issues, however, ranging from excessive rewrites to a number of cast injuries resulting from its difficult stunts. Reactions to "Spider-Man" were mixed, and the costly production proved to be a massive financial flop.

#2: "Carrie" (1988)


The idea of bringing author Stephen King and director Brian De Palma's "Carrie" to the Broadway stage seems like one destined for failure. Today, it's often mentioned as one of musical theater's most notorious flops, with the show only mustering five performances before calling it quits. Preview screenings for the show, although well-attended, were said to have featured audiences booing. It should be mentioned however, that a number of the show's actresses did receive positive attention for their work. Today, off Broadway versions of "Carrie" actually perform better than the original, which was said to have cost its investors $7 million.

Before we name our number one pick, here are a few honorable-or is that dishonorable?-mentions.



"Kelly" (1965)





"Via Galactica" (1972)





"Bring Back Birdie" (1981)





#1: "Moose Murders" (1983)


We've covered a lot of Broadway flops on this list, but this one actually opened and closed on the same night. "Moose Murders" was intended by its composer Arthur Bicknell to be a farcical murder mystery, but today is considered a legendary flop; a title invoked by Broadway critics when attempting to describe a show's awful-ness to their audience. Although "Moose Murders" did stumble through thirteen preview screenings before its opening and closing show, the musical's blink-and-you-missed-it status has ensured its awful reputation for theater goers as an all time classic of Broadway bombs.
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