THE IBEN HJEJLE AWARD: As a regular theatre-goer, I've seen my share of flops on Broadway (Sweet Smell of Success, Thou Shalt Not, Seussical: The Musical!), though I've missed more than a few (the recent undeadly trilogy of vampire musicals, which apparently both bit and sucked, Taboo, Urban Cowboy)--but I don't know if I've ever seen a show that's closing as prematurely as High Fidelity is. Yes, the show's not perfect--it grossly simplifies the book and movie ("Rob produces records" and "Rob meets each of his exes to resolve his issues" are gone), and the score's attempts to ape famous musical styles are a bit painful (particularly the Marvin Gaye-styled number at the end of the show and a Springsteen fantasy sequence)--but it's charming and entertaining, with a score that tries (for once) to meld musical theatre and pop music styles. It's also incredibly nice to see a musical that's resolutely set in the here and now (something Broadway hasn't had since Rent first opened) and that's not meta-theatrical (yes, it was funny in The Producers and Urinetown, but do we really need more?).
Apparently, the show's been massively retooled since the preview run in Boston, where it garnered negative buzz. Having seen it, had they waited six months, gotten a smaller house rather than the cavernous Imperial (the Jacobs, right across the street, is open), and carefully marketed (a show with a counterpoint song titled "I Slept With Someone Who Slept With Lyle Lovett"/"I Slept With Someone Who Handled Kurt Cobain's Intervention" is perhaps not going to appeal to your standard Wednesday matinee audience), this could have had a decent run. Sadly, we're not going to get that, as it closes tonight.