The Playgoer: Robert Goulet: End of The "Road"?

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Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Robert Goulet: End of The "Road"?

Riedel today reminds us of a larger metaphorical significance in the passing of Robert Goulet:

Where he made his mark (and his millions) was on the road - in "Man of La Mancha," "South Pacific" and, of course, countless tours of "Camelot."

Goulet was, in fact, the last of the touring stars, an elite circle that once included Mary Martin, Yul Brynner and Carol Channing.

These musical theater brand names guaranteed sold-out houses from Buffalo to Seattle, San Diego to Baltimore.

Those days pretty much ended in the '90s, when the shows themselves became the stars. "Les Miserables" and "Miss Saigon" didn't need Robert Goulet to sell tickets.

True. Think of it: who are our nationally known theatrical stars any more? And I don't mean Hollywood stars imported to star on Broadway.

Speaking of Goulet, no tribute would be complete without some, I'm sure well-intentioned, ribbing from Will Ferrell...


Murph said...

I just saw the touring production of Sweeney Todd last night at its first performance in Toronto. I was puzzled by their move to list Judy Kaye and David Hess above the title in all advertisements. That got me thinking about what kind of draw there would be if Patti LuPone and Michael Cerveris stuck with the show through its tour.

Certainly, LuPone would have been a bigger draw from her time on 'Life Goes On.' In that vein, other modern stars who could pack houses on tour based their tv gigs include: Audra McDonald (Private Practice), Sara Ramirez (Grey's Anatomy), etc. But for the male stars, it becomes a bit harder and the only leading man who could have that kind of draw now might be Patrick Wilson known from his film work.

The only household name stars known almost exclusively for their stage work would be Bernadette Peters and Nathan Lane. And by teenage girl support alone, Idina Menzel or Kristen Chenoweth could carry a tour just on the strength of Wicked alone - never mind Kristen's tv and film gigs.

Everyone else falls too heavily into the "import" category.

Anonymous said...