Welcome to my annual Worst Broadway Show Poll. Pick the show you thought was the worst to open on Broadway between 2010 and 2019.
Most of the 20 nominees were the two highest scorers in each of the previous annual polls, from 2012 (when I started these polls) to 2018. The selections from 2011 and 2019 are my personal choices. This is my Bottom 20 Broadway Shows of the Decade (with help from the polltakers), as a counterbalance to my Top 10 New York Theater of the Decade.
Note: 2011 and 2012 were exceptionally good years for exceptionally bad shows, while 2010 was not. (I liked both Enron and Elling in 2010, one of which closed after 16 regular performances, the other after nine.) So rather than nominating any shows from 2010, I include three from both 2011 and 2012. Also, I adamantly disagreed with the polltakers’ top choice for 2014, so I went with the second and third highest scorers that year.
If you disagree with my choices and those of your fellow polltakers over the years, you can express this by
1. Not voting for a show on the list that you liked;
2. Adding your choice for worst in the “Other” slot if it’s not one of the 20 below. Remember: Only Broadway shows that opened between January 2010 and December 2019 are eligible (If enough people add a particular show to “Other,” even from 2010, I’ll add it to the ballot.)
3. Making a comment in the comments section beneath the poll.
Judge the quality of the show as you see it, not how it did at the box office.
Below the poll are links to reviews of the shows in question.
Update: As of Monday morning, more than ten percent of the votes have been for “Other,” with more than 40 shows written in that are not listed in the poll, including some that other theatergoers especially cherish.. (You can’t please everybody.) There are more of these write-in votes for “The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical” than any other eligible show, so I’m adding it to the poll.
Wonderland: The Mad Hatter as the Wicked Witch
Scandalous: Kathie Lee Gifford’s Broadway term paper
The Anarchist: Real-life riveting story turned into Mamet mush
The Performers: Gag-worthy gags about porno on Broadway
Jekyll and Hyde: Good vs. Bad on Broadway
Breakfast at Tiffany’s: Capote without Audrey Hepburn or Moon River
Bronx Bombers: The Yankees Foul
Bullets Over Broadway: Woody Allen’s Contempt for the Theater
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory: Death by Chocolate
Gettin’ The Band Back Together
15 thoughts on “Poll: Worst Broadway Show of the Decade”
Could you post what the voted ‘others’ were?
Yes I will, once it’s passed a certain threshold.
By far the worst show in NYC is a Perfect Crime, just terrible
It’s also the longest-running!
(It’s not eligible for this poll because it’s not on Broadway, and didn’t open during this decade.)
To say that Amelie was a bad show it to not understand true taste in Lyrics and story line. It was a funny musical with an interesting love plotline but didn’t revolve entirely around the love interest. It was a story about growth of many different characters through the journey of the main character. You really should listen to the soundtrack and just learn to vibe with it and appreciate it for what it is: A MASTERPIECE!
Amelie was the second highest scorer in the 2017 poll, which is why it’s one of the nominees.
A list like this does not help anyone.
Help whom to do what?
Every year, at least one theater fan objects to my putting together this list at all. Often, the argument is that the artists worked hard and deserve respect. The artists have my respect. Sometimes a show just doesn’t work for theatergoers. The reason I feel obligated to point this out — the reason I don’t just do my top ten lists — is connected to a famous quote from film critic Pauline Kael: “A critic is the only independent source of information. The rest is advertising.”
Bob’s Burgers did an entire episode on why lists like these aren’t good for much. Check it out!
What episode is it (season?) so I can watch it.
Since you give me no details, all I can say is: Well, you’ve come to this post, haven’t you?
What other articles of mine have you ever read?
Disaster was a disaster…right up there with LeStat as a true disappointment for me
Pretty much all Broadway shows are hyped up garbage. Think about it. The only way Broadway can turn profits is to cater to hackneyed tourists. Therefore, the award for insidious tripe goes to Hamilton.
I’ve thought about it, for many years, and I respectfully disagree. The best theater, some of which has been on Broadway, has moved me, taught me, changed my perspective. I’m grateful for shows like Fun Home, The Band’s Visit, Angels in America, Fences and The Piano Lesson (indeed everything by August Wilson, all of which has been on Broadway), Indecent, Sweat, A Raisin in the Sun, and, yes, Hamilton. Not all of Broadway is hyped up, not all of it is just for tourists (and just because somebody is a tourist doesn’t mean they have no taste; have you never been a tourist?) Some of it is not worth seeing — although “garbage” and “tripe” is harsh. But even if you can justify the “garbage” label for some shows, we’d be poorer as a people if we threw out all of Broadway.
Must depend on one’s interests, or boiling point. Many of the shows you mentioned, including Angel’s in America, are responsible for trashing the need for plot and character development. Art vs. Propaganda has been a debate for perhaps dating back to Socrates, but which one has won in the 21st century is too clear. Broadway is not alone. Just read the reviews of recent films. I’m not the only one who finds woke culture mind numbingly tired. Sunday service or a Broadway play? At least what you pay the church is voluntary.
I couldn’t disagree more with your analysis of Angels in America. There is plenty of plot and character development — the passage of both Prior Walter and Roy Cohn through illness toward death, Joe Pitt’s awakening to his homosexuality,Harper Pitt’s journey from dependence to independence, Louis Ironson’s grappling with his sense of guilt. If you actually attended a production of “Angels in America” and, rather than being moved by any of it, simply dismissed it as propaganda, then that’s on you, not the 21st century. (And besides, it’s a 20th century play.)
There is surely an interesting discussion about what constitutes propaganda, and whether a show can be both propaganda and a work of art — or does one preclude the other? But I’m not willing to generalize about all art and culture in the century the way you do. A willingness to make such a sweeping statement is the sign of an inability or unwillingness to do the work to be critically discriminating, and just sounds cranky.