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FLASHBACK FRIDAY: Over the years, Broadway has continued to keep the tradition going of so many unforgettable musicals. We’ve had our share of smash hits and flops. Even with a flop, the show still later on goes to have a huge cult following. One particular show is about to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of its world premiere debut next year in 2022….. That was a little musical called Taboo.
For those who may not know, TABOO is set in London in an abandoned warehouse in the 1970’s. It mainly centers on the story of the life of acclaimed singer, DJ, and Fashion icon Boy George with his band Culture Club along with some of the most famous icons during that era including Leigh Bowery, Marilyn, Steve Strange, and Philip Sallon. It features a score by Boy George along with Kevan Frost, John Themis, and Richie Stevens. The book was written by Mark Davies Markham and Charles Busch. Notable tunes from classics to originals include STRANGER IN THIS WORLD, DRESS TO KILL, EVERYTHING TABOO, OUT OF FASHION, TOUCH BY THE HAND OF COOL, and DO YOU REALLY WANT TO HURT ME.
TABOO originally premiered in London’s West End at the newly opened Venue Theatre back in 2002 running for only 4 months. Under the direction of Christopher Renshaw, the cast was led by…
newcomer Euan Morton as “Boy George”,
Matt Lucas (later Boy George) playing “Leigh Bowery”,
Paul Baker as “Phillip Salloon”,
and more.
The show was nominated for 4 Olivier Awards in 2003 winning only 1 for BEST PERFORMANCE BY A SUPPORTING ROLE IN A MUSICAL (for Paul Baker).
While the show was playing in London, Rosie O’Donnell went to see the production LIVE. She immediately fell in love with the show & was determined to support it in bringing the show overseas to our Broadway backyard. That’s what she did. She put in over $10 million (yup, money from her former Daytime Talk Show) into the project. With money and a full New York company on board, the show went through various changes into the script.
TABOO made its Broadway debut in the Fall of 2003 at the Plymouth Theatre (now the Gerald Schonefeld Theatre). It ran for only for 16 previews and only 100 regular performances. Under the direction of Christopher Renshaw once again, the cast would feature….
Euan Morton reprising the role of “Boy George”,
Boy George reprising his performance of “Leigh Bowery”,
Raúl E. Esparza as “Phillip Salloon”,
and more.
The show received horrific reviews becoming one of the biggest flops on Broadway ever. O’Donnell did whatever she could to keep the show running. However, still nobody went. When the production did close, Rosie O’Donnell herself lost the full $10 million on the show. This shows…… NEVER PUT YOUR OWN MONEY IN THE SHOW!!!
The show would still go on to get some great Award nominations and Buzz. It was nominated for 4 Tony Awards in 2004 for BEST ORIGINAL SCORE, BEST LEADING ACTOR IN A MUSICAL (for Euan Morton), BEST FEATURED ACTOR IN A MUSICAL (for Raul Esparza), and BEST COSTUME DESIGN. However, it lost the categories. It did however receive a Drama Desk for OUTSTANDING FEATURED ACTOR IN A MUSICAL (for Raul Esparza) and a special Theatre World Award for Euan Morton.
The show would briefly have a West End revival in 2012.
Who remembers this show?!!!!
Any TABOO fans out there?!!
Mike Haber
Author: Mike Haber

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