- Marvelous Mrs. Maisel -Is 'The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel's Disastrous Catskills Play Real?
Abe Weissman lets poor Buzz know he's the scorpion and the kid's Broadway dreams are the toad in the third episode of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel Season 4, "Everything is Bellmore." Tasked with reviewing the Broadway debut of a young man from Steiner's Resort, Midge's father initially tries to avoid writing a negative review, but after talking with his editor, he absolutely eviscerates the play. This of course led me to wonder whether or not Mrs. Maisel's dreadful Catskills play was inspired by a real Broadway show that Amy Sherman-Palladino just really doesn't like.
Unfortunately, the show doesn't serve up much in the way of clues. None of the musical is shown onscreen, although you can hear a snippet of its one song as Susie is walking out midway through the production. Meanwhile, all I could gather from Abe's colorful description is that the play is overly long, lacking in originality, and cynical compared to the days when it was staged at Steiner's.
As far as I can tell, there's only one Broadway play set in the Catskills, and that's 1993's "Catskills on Broadway," which Abe likely would have enjoyed way more than "They Came, They Danced." According to a review from Variety, the show was basically a comedy special harkening back to the golden days of Catskills comedians — and given its obscurity, it doesn't sound like the sort of thing Sherman-Palladino would lampoon.
Musicals were definitely having a moment in the '60s though, and it stands to reason Sherman-Palladino may have been making a more general comment on the state of Broadway then (or even now). "Bye Bye Birdie," "Carnival," and "Oliver!" all premiered in the early '60s, and the movie version of Bye Bye Birdie was accused of losing the magic of the Broadway show by The New York Times. "They lose the essential idea of satire and the pace and sparkle of the show," Bosley Crowther lamented.
However, I suspect Sherman-Palladino is more generally commenting on Hollywood's reboot/remake obsession. In it's original form, "They Came, They Danced" was a warmhearted play that brought a sense of community to the guests at Steiner's. But once Hollywood gets its hands on it, the show becomes a shell of its former self.
Interestingly, Abe's rant includes nods to the criticism that was lobbed at the Gilmore Girls revival over on Netflix. Where once the show was warm and comforting, it became cold and depressing as the realities of adulthood descended on a meandering Rory and Lorelai, both of whom were seemingly stuck in time. Is Sherman-Palladino subtly acknowledging the universal truth that we can't go back again or simply lambasting Hollywood's love of remaking literally everything? Only she knows for sure, but I can confirm no real Catskills play was harmed in the penning of Abe's scathing review.
Images: Christopher Saunders/Amazon Prime Video; Amazon Prime Video