“Chaplin the Musical” Previews Start Today

To say that I am skeptical about the new Chaplin musical is to give it too much credit. Musicals are almost never good; and biographical dramatizations are good even more rarely than that.  The combination is almost guaranteed to be wretched.  Add to this, the thankless and impossible task of some poor schlub being forced to impersonate the greatest comic genius of the modern age (I cringe to think of Robert Downey’s performance in Richard Attenborough’s abysmal Chaplin bio-pic) and you have a recipe for a terrible time, at any rate a terrible time for me. (I really don’t care what you do).

Nevertheless, it is of passing interest that this show goes into previews today. If it helps more people appreciate the life and work of Charlie Chaplin, I’m forced to concede that it will be a net gain. For tickets and so forth go here. 

To find out more about the variety arts past and presentconsult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famousavailable at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold. And don’t miss Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube, to be released by Bear Manor Media in 2013.



7 Responses to ““Chaplin the Musical” Previews Start Today”

  1. I didn’t hate Robert Downy Jr. in Chaplin, but I agree that it was a pale imitation of the real thing. . Still, it sparked interest in Chaplin, employed Dan Kamin Jr to teach Robert Downey what to do, and for me wasn’t a terrible 2 hours (although it’s not one I’ll repeat anytime soon


  2. I watched it recently, hence the fresh bile. I recall enjoying it when it first came out. But these bio-pics always try to take on way too much.


  3. I have no idea whether “Chaplin” will be decent or not, but “Musicals are almost never good” is one of the most small-minded things I’ve ever heard from a theatrical writer. Unless it’s merely the most underinclusive and is meant as a subset of “Most things aren’t any good,” which I suppose I could get behind.


  4. Your instinct that it is a “sub-set” of “most things” is correct. However, I also think musicals have a steeper curve than most other genres, and they almost never meet it, to my personal taste. They must not only have an excellent book, but excellent songs, etc. I generally find that they have neither. That said, my favorite American plays — of any sort — happen to be musicals. That doesn’t change the fact that most musicals make me want to throw up, throttle someone, or run screaming into the street. Usually all three


  5. The best American musical of the past fifty years is, of course, The Fat Spy


  6. Scott Maynard Says:

    My wife and I saw Chaplan in preview. It was absolutely spectacular. Rob McClure who plays
    Charlie Chaplan is fantastic.
    The story by Tom Meehan(Annie, Hairspray,
    and The Producers) wrote a great story that
    makes the show flow easily without getting
    Bogged down in a complicated story telling.

    I highly recommend this show!


  7. Samuel L. Leiter Says:

    Rob McClure captures the Tramp very well. But when it comes to playing Chaplin himself, he is the palest of shadows. His voice is grating, both when he speaks and when he sings; his clothes hang on him, rather than fitting like those of the Beau Brummel that Chaplin was; his emoting is all shouting and cliched gestures; his features fail totally to bring the image of Chaplin to life. In short, he is precisely the victim that this blog predicted he would be. At least, he is short, like the real Chaplin. The script is stereotypical and foolishly attempts to squeeze at least 70 years into 2 hours; this makes all the highlights in Chaplin’s life into exaggerated cartoons in order to make their point before the show moves along. It is, though, an interesting show visually because of its largely black and white style, emulating the appearance of a silent movie. Still, if the writer wanted to present so much of Chaplin’s life, he should have used theatrical conceits to tell the story and not relied on clunky book scenes that stop the action dead in its tracks.


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