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the road, the producers, call a "play doctor" - a pro with a good track record who will join the show out of town and try to turn it around. Jerome Robbins has the reputation as the best doctor in town.  He turned Funny Girl into such a hit few people even know it almost died out of town.  Robbins was also called in to operate on "1600". Rumor has it he took one look at the show and went home, suggesting an early close.

Most pros believe it's hard to save a show once it's in trouble.  How did it get in trouble in the first place?  Sometimes the talent doesn't mesh - which is considered to be the main reason for the demise of "1600".  Sometimes the producer is so enamored with the idea of having a show on Broadway that he loses sight of everything else, making snap decisions and rushed judgments in order to get the show on the boards. (You can tell a show's in trouble when the director starts asking the theatre doorman what he thought of a number.)  Bad book is often the cause of failure - especially in musicals.

There are the critics.  Critical reviews can certainly do a play in.  "I saw the play at a disadvantage," wrote George Kaufman, "the curtain was up." "Number Seven opened last night at the Times Square Theater.  It was misnamed by five," wrote Alexander Woollcott.  "I will not say that Portofino is the worst musical ever produced because I've only been seeing musicals since 1919," wrote Walter Kerr.

David Merrick found critical opinion so important that after his play Subways are for Sleeping did poorly with the real critics, he invited a group of people with the same exact names as the famous critics to come see his play and used their quotes in a large ad.  It didn't do much good.  But a critic can also save a play, as Woollcott did with A Bill of Divorcement, which had already received its notice to close when he rallied his weight behind it and pulled the play through.  John Simon, known for the acidity of his typewriter, gave much the same support to Pacific Overtures.

There is no insurance against a flop (just the small satisfaction that all the biggest talents have had them) and, usually, the financial burdens are assumed by the producers.  The actors all get paid, as does the entire crew, and the weeks worked are recorded in their unemployment records and qualify them for the same benefits as everyone else.

The leftovers of a flop are dispersed much the same way as those of a successful play.  The scenery is almost always destroyed.  Usable flats are kept and the rest is burned.  The set of Home Sweet Homer, one of Broadway's most elaborate with thousands of die-cut standards and millions of feet of ribbon, was burned.  If the show is a schlep along, the scenery will go on the road and be destroyed or given away at the end of the line.

Costumes (which would go to a costume house like Brooks-Van Horn for rental use after a hit) may be returned to the house that made them if the bill isn't paid, offered up to the cast, given to colleges or the Theatre Development  Fund, or destroyed.  Yul Brynner salvaged a few things from Home Sweet Homer, including a pair of custom sandals he refused to wear in the role but loves for leisure wear.

Original cast albums are recorded with-

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