Not Since Carrie: 40 Years of Broadway Musical Flops


Not Since Carrie is Ken Mandelbaum?s brilliant survey of Broadway's biggest flops. This highly readable and entertaining book highlights almost 200 musicals created between 1950 and 1990, framed around the notorious musical adaptation of Carrie, and examines the reasons for their failure. "Essential and hilarious," raves The New Yorker, and The New York Times calls the book "A must-read."

From such legendary catastrophes as Breakfast at Tiffany's and Carrie to ...

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Not Since Carrie: Forty Years of Broadway Musical Flops

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Not Since Carrie is Ken Mandelbaum’s brilliant survey of Broadway's biggest flops. This highly readable and entertaining book highlights almost 200 musicals created between 1950 and 1990, framed around the notorious musical adaptation of Carrie, and examines the reasons for their failure. "Essential and hilarious," raves The New Yorker, and The New York Times calls the book "A must-read."

From such legendary catastrophes as Breakfast at Tiffany's and Carrie to the failures of Alan Jay Lerner and Rodgers and Hammerstein, this hilarious account of some "lost" theatre history provides stories of nearly 200 musical flops that played from 1950 to 1991. "Best Theatre Book of 1991."--USA Today. 150 photographs.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Highly readable...strong opinions backed up by solid judgment. Mr. Mandelbaum has seen nearly everything and is not easily taken in....Justified affection for worthy scenes, wisely tempered by shrewd analysis...Mr. Mandelbaum has a very good ear that leads him to champion scores that have had smaller cult followings...As befits the subject, Not Since Carrie is full of entertaining backstage reportage...The illustrations are also fun and wittily chosen, whether embarrassing production photos or sadly hopeful posters and advertising."--Frank Rich, The New York Times/WQXR

"A must-read."--Alex Witchel, The New York Times

"Best theater book of 1991...breathtaking research and pointed, but not cruel, wit."--David Patrick Stearns, USA Today

"Of all the theater books I've come across lately, none has entertained me more than Ken Mandelbaum's Not Since Carrie, a lively, illustrated account of forty years of Broadway musical flops."--Doug Watt, New York Daily News

"An enormously amusing read...I cannot recall enjoying a theatre book as much as Not Since Carrie in a long time."--Hap Erstein, The Washington Times

"The book we have all been waiting for. Not only does [Mandelbaum] identify more than two hundred flops by name, he analyzes each and every one of them at some length and misses very little in the way of backstage intrigue. Mandelbaum's chapter "Don't Let This Happen to You" could double as a primer for people who write musicals or aspire to write them. Fascinating book, this-- most definitely not a flop. It practically reads itself. And just chockful of stuff that's hard to find elsewhere."--Nels Nelson, Philadelphia Daily News

"Essential and hilarious."--The New Yorker

Library Journal
While ample material on hit Broadway musicals is readily available, detailed critical information on musical flops has been difficult to come by. Mandelbaum's ( ``A Chorus Line'' and the Musicals of Michael Bennett , LJ 6/15/89) informative and entertaining survey of almost 200 musical flops from 1950 to 1990 fills the void admirably. Framed by the 1988 megaflop Carrie , which theater buffs still speak of in hushed tones, the shows are presented thematically rather than chronologically, thus better underscoring the reasons for failure. While Mandelbaum can be scathing about mediocre material, he carefully analyzes each show, pointing out both problems and strengths, and demonstrates a keen insight into Broadway musical history. Brief synopses and fascinating backstage gossip combine with intelligent criticism and well-chosen illustrations to make this study a required addition to all theater collections. Highly recommended.-- Eric W. Johnson, Teikyo Post Univ. Lib., Waterbury, Ct.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312082734
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 8/15/1992
  • Edition description: REV
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 484,872
  • Product dimensions: 6.04 (w) x 8.99 (h) x 0.93 (d)

Meet the Author

Ken Mandelbaum is a theater critic. He is the author of A Chorus Line and the Musicals of Michael Bennett and Not Since Carrie: Forty Years of Broadway Musical Flops.

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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 11, 2013

    Thw comment with the question marks was by accident

    I didnt acrualy mean to post that. I was trying to figure out where the period was on my nook. This book is great!

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  • Posted January 14, 2013

    One of the best theatre books I have ever read. Should be required reading for all theatre students.

    I discovered this book in 1991 when I was stocking shelves at the bookstore I worked at. We had gotten two copies and I started flipping through the book. Having a degree in Theatre Performance and Production was one reason I was curious. The other reason was that I had seen "Carrie" in February of 1988 in Stratford Upon Avon and had actually liked it. This book dissects, in great depth, but with fabulous retrospective perspective everything that goes into a Broadway Flop. I only wish there was a new version with a chapter about "The Pirate Queen". What I love about this book is that he clearly states that there isn't one formula for a Broadway Flop. There are many variables that can contribute. Even if you have giant stars like Lucile Ball and Bert Larr, your show isn't going to be a hit if the story, music or concept doesn't work. The most hilarious thing I found was that the college I graduated from did not one, but TWO musicals mentioned in the book. I couldn't stop laughing. I loved the book so much, that I sent the second copy of the book to my History of Theatre teacher. He loved it too. Note: The concept of "Carrie" wasn't all bad. The production I saw in England was not the production that was transferred across the pond. The significant changes included changing from pouring the "blood" on her from the catwalks, to the boy running and dumping it on her from a bucket. (See book cover) Linsey was a sport to pose for that photo. Also, Barbara Cook jumped ship when she heard about the changes and Betty Buckley (Cats: Memory fame) took the part of the zealot mother. Some people, no matter how talented they are, can not pull of some roles (ie. Patty LuPone in the concert version of "Sweeney Todd"). It was the first production to use laser lights as part of the production. There was also much more that it's fair share of symbolism in the costuming and sets. That seriously overwhelmed the non-theatre geek audience. Still, it was an interesting part of my theatre history.-

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 29, 2006

    Hilarious - Definitely Recommended for All

    This is one of the funniest books I have ever read. In fact, any time I feel like having a few laughs I pull it off the shelf and reread various chapters. Almost all of the anecdotes Mandelbaum relates are great--from the disaster that was 'Breakfast at Tiffany's' to 'Mata Hari's' gremlin-filled opening in Washington DC to Yul Brynner & Company's shenanigans on the road in 'Home Sweet Homer.' Definitely written with a gay perspective (check out Mandelbaum's accounts about Josh Logan's use of chorus boys and some of the comments about 'Carrie: The Musical.) You'll learn more about the Broadway Musical from studying its flops than by studying its biggest hits. All theater buffs should put this on top of their reading lists, if they haven't read it yet.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 1, 2002

    Excellent Book

    Outstanding and enjoyable. The book was insightful and hilarious. It is great when a lot of these musicals are mentioned later. Makes you feel really smart.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 26, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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