Capeman has announced it will close Mar. 28 after just 68 performances, losing some $11 million in the process. The closing of Paul Simon's first Broadway musical, a special project he created over the better part of a decade, is bringing an unusual mix of feelings. Some had hoped the '60s/70s icon would create a new theatre sound. Some hoped the musical about a Puerto Rican filled with Borinqueno imagery would draw a new audience. Some hoped for a hip-sounding score to put beside Rent.
Playbill On-Line asked readers to share their opinions of what this closing means for Broadway, for musicals, for audiences and especially what it means to them personally. Here are the results. Playbill On-Line thanks those who took the time to respond.
As a Puerto Rican from the city, I'm a 17 year old female and I went to go see it. I loved it . I agree with El Diaro and I think it should remain open . I never knew of the Capeman and now I'm glad to hear about it ....I feel like I'Ve learned something that has to do with my history as a Puerto Rican . And I t was about damn time that Latinos make it to Broadway . Thank you.
I am sorry that the Capeman will not be seen by the masses--I saw it during previews and although I have a thing for Paul Simon and really seem to connect with everthing he has ever done, I thought he brought things to a new level this time--more later when I've had a chance to gather my thoughts. It's a shame--hope the cast album goes forward--also, how about a tour of sorts for small theater houses?
Having seen the show 8 times since the first preview, and absolutely loving it, I'm quite saddened by the closing announcement. It was a wonderful show with an INCREDIBLY talented cast. Its a shame the reviewers felt the need to be jerks. Its a shame that people felt the need to protest the show. For gods sake it is a SHOW. That is all. A Broadway musical, and a wonderful one at that. Those of you who can still catch it before it closes, do so.
From Greg Solomon:
I found Capeman to truly be a breakthrough in musical theater. Never had I been more DISTURBED by a musical, which was a very good thing. Unfortunately theater-going audiences want musicals to be simple entertainment and couldn't accept the disjointedness and subject matter of Capeman.
No doubt in the future when a piece such as Capeman can be accepted by audiences there will be a smash hit revival (following in the steps of Chicago). I'm personally just sad to see that musical theater is still such a confining field.
I can't believe I spent forty dollars to see this show!! I have seen a lot of Broadway shows and The Capeman is one of the worst I have ever seen. If I'm upset that I spend forty bucks on it, I can't imagine how the producers must feel. Even though the show had some good music, it got old very quick. You can only listen to so much salsa music in one evening. The sets of course, were brilliant, the story was weak and it had a terrible script. The story never went anywhere, things weren't made clear enough, the characters never fully developed, and we end up not caring for any of the characters. I also thought that a lot of the girls, especially the teenage girls, were really miscast, they were bad actresses, and had really weak singing voices. I feel bad for everyone who worked so hard and spent so much time and effort on this show, but it just isn't good enough, no big loss to Broadway!
I think it was a mistake that the producers announced the closing so far in advance. I plan to see this show tomorrow, and everyone I know keeps telling me it's already closed. But, of course, the closing date is set for the end of the month. So instead of creating a stampede to the box office to catch this show before it closes, what the producers have actually succeeded at is confusing the public.
From Schreiner, Page:
It is a shame that "The Capeman" had to close so early. I did not see the show, but have spoken with some who did. All said that it could become another 'landmark musical', given the chance. It seems to be the 'curse' of the Marquis Theatre to present wonderful shows - all of which, lately, through the mid to later part of the '90s, even with good to rave reviews, have been considered flops: "Nick & Nora", "The Goodbye Girl", even "Victor/Victoria" was considered a financial failure. Another current theatre curse is the Richard Rodgers Theatre. Two wonderful shows: "Steel Pier" and "Side Show" - both flops - but both critically acclaimed in their own right!
"Steel Pier", like "Side Show", was not given a fair shot. Strange - "Steel Pier" was nominated for 11 Tonys - then folded almost 4 weeks later after the awards were given out. Unheard of and it doesn't make any sense! I saw "Steel Pier" last May just prior to the Tony's, and absolutely fell in love with that show! Wonderful score and a beautiful love story. The setting was even perfect for a Broadway musical. (It even brought back memories of "Ballroom", another wonderful show that was loved - and closed much too early!) "Steel Pier" was moving and wonderful, and I had just seen "Titanic", which I loved, and the new revival of "Chicago" (another Kander & Ebb), which I loved, too, but "Steel Pier" was my favorite of the 3 that I had seen that weekend.
I did not get to see "Side Show", but am planning to see it in June, if the show gets to reopen in time for the Tonys. Everyone who saw the show that I spoke with loved it - and all agreed - was overlooked - and closed much, much too early! Point being - not every new musical (or play) has to be "Les Miz", "Cats" and "Titanic", of course, which are all great shows! But theatre is just that - theatre - meaning all audiences should be openly minded to new experiences in the theatrical world - some of which may be 'light hearted' or even 'dark', so to speak. It really angers me to see such wonderful new shows that I have used as examples not make it - when they all deserved to at least run a full season with a national tour following immediately!
.Well it means there is one less bad play on Broadway.. It means audiences will not settle for second best. I went to see the Capeman in March. I wanted to love it , I even wanted to like it, but I came away with such an empty feeling. I was almost turned off to Broadway. . . Then I remembered Jekyll and Hyde and Les Mis and it reminded me of why I love broadway so much.
Capeman left me with such any empty feeling. I must admit Paul Simon did a great job with the songs and casting. Marc Anthony was great, Ruben Blades was better and Ednita Nazario was warm and endearing, but this does not make a play great. You must fire on all cylinders to make a mark on Broadway.
I don't understand why there was so much talk about this being a Latino play. Was Salvador Agron a hero? I think not. Yes the cast was made up of some of the best Latino talent money could buy, but that could not keep Capeman alive. The story did not flow, it just did not live up to the standards broadway has come to expect. I loved the cast, I loved the music but in the end Capeman needed much more work to survive on Broadway...and remember there is just no half stepping.
I find it unbelievable that after the first week of running under cost, the producers are pulling out of such a beautiful show. The songs, sets, and performances were amazing. I am not saying that this show was perfect, but give credit where it is due. Ednita Nazario and Marc Anthony were astonishing, and deserved to be recognized with Tony noms at least for their work.
With a little more publicity and the coming spring thaw, the show would have picked up business. This show was before its time, like the original Chicago. I can only hope I will be able to see the revival in 20 yrs, possibly with Marc as the older Sal??
I have been going to broadway shows for nearly fifty years. Capeman was far from the best and even further from the worst. Like everyone else I thought the music was wonderful.I will best remember the show for the way it died midway in the second act. Why we suddenly find our central character escaping from prison to meet some Indian girl in the middle of the desert in Arizona I don't understand. Up to that point the show was flying. It then just plopped. We always remember best the last things that we've seen. That's how the show ends and that's what the audience feels when it walks out. It deserved to close.
From John Esche (email@example.com):
With the demise of the failed CAPEMAN, we ought to be thankful for a couple things it did, in fact, accomplish while drawing a couple lessons too few neophytes year after year have been willing to learn.
First and foremost, CAPEMAN (like John Leguizamo's admirable FREAK) *did* bring a significant new audience to Broadway. After wasting thousands of dollars advertising in the usual theatrical places to no effect (ie. no significant advance) the producers found that once performances started - even with the poisonous word of mouth early in previews when the show's problems were all too obvious - Latino and other fans of Marc Anthony (a real find for the theatre if we can keep him), Reuben Blades and even Ednita Nazario were lining up to celebrate their stars and a story that at least *attempted* to speak to them.
Like any audience largely new to Broadway, their numbers were life blood to CAPEMAN, but not enough to actually push it BY THEMSELVES above the break even point. But given an initial exposure many of them clearly liked, producers would be foolish not to attempt to keep them interested. The excitement of latin rhythms have been too long missing from Broadway scores. Frank Wildhorn (whose work until now has been distinctly underwhelming) is promising a show called HAVANA in the near future; let's pray it's good enough to capture the spirit of what was good in CAPEMAN and much of it's new audience.
The lesson: YES, pop music is welcome on Broadway - and most of the critics and audiences applauded Simon's music - even though his melodic inspiration did not carry through to the end and there never was the "Bridge Over Troubled Waters" type moment Simon is usually so good at where a character stands back and philosophizes or obliquely comments on the action. BUT: no matter how good the music is, the whole package has to work or the show doesn't work.
The producers didn't build an advance from the usual sources because the usual sources looked at the ads and didn't see ONE person involved in the project with real experience putting together a major musical. As it turned out, they were right. If you're going to play with the big boys, GET SOMEONE ON THE TEAM who knows the rules - or at least some of the tricks. Had Simon, the power on CAPEMAN, allowed someone like that on the team from the start to help him in shaping the project (rather than bringing them in at the end to attempt a fix) he might have not only had an advance to carry him to the Tonys, but a show good enough to merit them.
Finally: a few of the Latino fans of the show were convinced that some of the "bashing" of the show sprang from disguised anti-Latino feelings. This was certainly not the case among anyone *I* talked to, but if the Senate follows the remarkable House action in approving a statehood referendum for Puerto Rico, here's hoping WE prove these people wrong by channeling all the enthusiasm many of us had for THE CAPEMAN into making the territory our 51st state! If that happens, it may be the most positive, lasting legacy the tragic Salvadore Agron and his victims could have ever had.
From Robert P. Schneider:
The show was terrible and deserved to close. A waste of talent all around.
Personally, I am kind of glad that it is closing. Although the music is quite good, the story itself was dreadful! It had a bad subject matter told in a bad way. Hopefully now Paul Simon will realize that he can't recreate Broadway with one show. I like it the way it is anyway. Let Paul Simon continue to write music and let the playwrights/composers continue to write Broadway shows. They are two totally different fields that should not be confused. Unfortunately, Simon has done just that. Let the Capeman be a lesson to him.
From Remo65 (Just another Newyorican):
I saved my money to see the performance that the few Latino people from my job were so excited about. Two tickets, 164 dollars and twenty five cents it cost me. To see what my co-workers saw. I thought it was beautiful, funny and sad, I was emotionally charged by the play. It was worth saving my money. If success is only measured by green paper then true life is not worthy of remembrance whether good bad or indifferent.
I was saving some money because I thought it was so good that I wanted to bring my daughter Lydia who is 9 years old to see the play. I don't think I'll make the deadline, I figured I had until June.
Thanks for letting me express my opinion.
From Michael Falkner:
Another in all too long of a line of Broadway flop after flop this season. This season will probably be remembered for two big hits, and a lot of misses. This is a show that, in all honesty, should never have seen Broadway, much less an opening night. Delaying and extending previews = death on Broadway. It's that simple.
From Douglas Neville:
The Capeman is in essence, like too many recent Broadway musicals, a staged album. The music is nothing less than spectacular. Every note rings with Paul Simon's love of the project. The concept album (sung largely by Simon) is wonderful, and I look forward to the April release of the full cast album. However, after loving the songs, the staging is quite disappointing. Though The Capeman is generally well acted, the production does not come close to taping the score's full potential.
The closing is not unwarranted; it is a disappointing SHOW. But The Capeman is nevertheless a great MUSICAL. And, how surprised can anyone be that a show based around a true-to-life murder flopped? The subject matter simply does not lend itself to the stage. Admittedly, there are writers who could pull of such a project, but for Simon, the story is told in song. There is not an audience for the musical retelling of a long-forgotten murder. But, light a candle, lay down in the dark, and listen to Simon sing Songs from The Capeman, and you are guaranteed a moving experience. In song, unlike on stage, we are made to care. In song, we are in Paul Simon's home territory. And you will not be disappointed.
I had tickets to see it in May and am very disappointed in the closing. Hopefully it will tour, so I will have a chance to see it somewhere else.
The show was a good concert but a bad Broadway musical. I'm not surprised that it closed. I read that plans are in the works to take "Songs from Capeman" on the road. This should work. Paul Simon should not have assumed that he had nothing to learn from the Broadway community in terms of putting on a narrative show.
From Marcus Woollen, NYC:
I had very high hopes when I went to see the musical in previews on Christmas Day - I usually prefer to see shows in previews before word of mouth and press reviews pollute my perception of the show.
Unfortunately, CAPEMAN was the least entertaining evening I have ever spent in a theater - not even amusingly bad, like BEST LITTLE WHOREHOUSE GOES PUBLIC was. I felt like I was being held hostage for 3 hours.
Despite the flawed production, i.e. people being introduced and then disappearing, people appearing without introduction, I enjoyed The Capeman and am very disappointed that Broadway audiences will not be hearing some of the outstanding music. Hopefully, the rest of the country will enjoy it. I'm looking forward to the CD release.
From Chris Conner:
I am by no means a Broadway expert. However, I have seen my share of hits and misses. This was not a miss. I was honored to watch this performance in previews back in December and was pleased with the production. I liked the music and the performances were brilliant. Though, it did lack that certain feeling of a Broadway classic. I hope this does not keep Mr. Simon from attempting another musical. He has a gift of writing and should do so again.
From Michael Shannon Burke:
I am thrilled. Although I enjoyed the music, I hated the show when I saw it in February. The music will linger on the CD, and now a good-sized house is open to a better production. Theatre is a combination of many elements. I'm not willing to pay $70 for a good concert. Now, if we could only liberate the Winter Garden Theatre.
Personally, I say "Good riddance"!
I purchased the CD a few weeks ago, and it was awful! I haven't listened to it since. I cant believe that anyone could compare Rent to this trash. Rent stirs your emotions, and the music sets you on fire. The Capeman's music makes me glad I wasn't born in the 50's and also a little bit nauseated.
When Side Show closed prematurely, I was a little upset, because I would have actually wanted to see that. But this one is a whole different animal...
At least now Forever Tango will have a theatre to go to!
From David Lang:
I am not surprised by the closing of "The Capeman", and I don't think its closing will have any great impact on Broadway. I saw the show in one of its final previews, and, while I was moved by the story's themes and thrilled by the score, I knew that I was seeing a show that could not survive long. The artistic staff failed to turn the story into something theatrical (with the exception, of course, of the outstanding scenic designs). "The Capeman" was in need of a real director to give it some sort of shape, some sort of dramatic tension. It needed a choreographer with a vision of how the story could be expressed through movement. In short, it needed someone to turn its words and music into a piece of living theatre.
I think the show will work best, for me, when I can listen to the CD of the cast recording and focus on the exciting score without the inept theatrics getting in the way.
From JUSTIN LANG (firstname.lastname@example.org):
I have not seen the show but I do know what the plot is revolving around. I had studied about history and the murders from the time period. The capeman had interested me along with JFK's assassination. I would have loved to see the capeman on broadway this spring but unfortunately it is closing. I would have loved to seen history recreated on stage about the life of the capeman. I bought the music about two months ago and always listen to it. I just don't understand why so many people have a problem with the show. It is not like Paul Simon wanted to portray the capeman's life as a negative. He wanted to bring history alive through music and dance while giving the capeman's story. I hate to see the show close. If "The Capeman" closes because of protest or a group of people think that it is immoral, then what will that leave us with in the future with controversial shows on Broadway? Every show on Broadway right now offends many different groups of people, but why are they not closing? If you think the show is bad or is immoral...DON'T SEE IT!!!
From Abe Leib:
Broadway is in desperate need of lyricists. The new shows be they Capeman, Sideshow, The Life, even the hits like Lion King or Ragtime simply do not have memorable or even pretty good lyrics. Compare them to Chicago or the King and I or the other revivals playing. We have no new Stephen Sondheim, Jerry Herman or Oscar Hammerstein. One of the main reasons Capeman flopped is because the songs have second rate lyrics.
From Zachary S. Shannon, Denver, CO:
First of all, I did not see The Capeman because I do not live in NY, so my opinion is not based on my feelings about the show. I think that it is very sad to see any musical close. Regardless of bad reviews or even the dislike amongst theatre goers, there are always people who are going to love a show and in some way, large or small, be touched or affected by it. It is also sad because those people (actors, directors, producers, stage crew, etc.) are going to be out of a job that they spent a lot of time and energy devoted to making it a success. Regardless of the result, it still is a lot of hard work. But the best thing that can be said about any closing is that because one show closes, another opens!