Some Thoughts After Reading “Not Since Carrie” by Ken Mandelbaum

After Zev mentioned “Not Since Carrie” in a comment on my post about musical sequels that have worked, I went down to the library and checked out a copy of Ken Mandelbaum’s book, which I had heard of before that, but only because it is mentioned in a little note after Frank Rich’s review of “Carrie” in Hot Seat.

Although “Not Since Carrie” was published in 1991 and there have been many notable flops in the 18 years that followed it’s publication (like, “Glory Days“), it is still a very concise and thorough account of Broadway musicals that have flopped.

And I can say that a lot of musicals mentioned in “[title of show]” are written about in this book.

What I mainly enjoyed about this book is how much detail Mandelbaum goes into about why the shows failed. What particularly fascinated about this book was reading about some musicals that I’ve only heard the cast recordings for and think have wonderful scores–like “Mack and Mabel” and “Flora the Red Menace”–but flopped on Broadway. Since I’ve never seen any of those shows onstage in post-Broadway productions and I definitely didn’t see them when they opened on Broadway, it was definitely interesting to read about problems with “Mack and Mabel,” such as unrealistic situations in the book and the fact that silent slapstick is a bit difficult to do onstage. (Which, after reading that, I had this sudden realization that it makes a lot of sense that silent-era slapstick isn’t easy to do onstage.)

It’s also very engrossing and possibly a quick read. I recommend it to anyone with an interest in theater, particularly musical theater and Broadway.

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3 thoughts on “Some Thoughts After Reading “Not Since Carrie” by Ken Mandelbaum

  1. This was one of the first books to get me really excited about theatre writing as well as theatre itself. I think I was about 12 or 13 when I read it (also in the course of a few days) and was completely hooked. That Mendelbaum never wrote a sequel is tragic–there has been more than enough material in the past 18 years, not to mention everything he left out of the first one! I can’t recommend it highly enough to lovers of musical theatre.

  2. I really have to read this. I’ve been a little put off by the cover. I’m extremely squeamish!

  3. As someone who is squeamish, I would recommend opening it up from the back cover. Because you really should read this.

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