A SHORT RUN FOR MEDITATION-BASED MUSICAL
New York, April 1, 2021 (AP): Despite enlightened expectations, Practical Mindfulness, The Musical, the highly-anticipated musical adaptation of Greg Sazima’s popular non-fiction self-help guide, has closed after but one performance. Backers released a statement, citing “financial and medicolegal mindlessness” for the abrupt ending of the non-fiction/fantasy musical’s brief run and resultant mass neurological disaster that ensued. From their press release:
“It’s unfortunate that we had to close, with our goal of good health and great entertainment ended so prematurely. Mistakes were made. Our mindful thoughts and good vibes to the many injured; to all of them, we say, “whoopsie!”
PMTM’s genre-busting approach promised an innovative and immersive experience, marrying guided meditative exercises with a complex narrative involving non-duality and Busby Berkeley-style dance numbers. But problems both in the story and especially in its production doomed the show’s success, as well as the health of many opening night performers and attendees. Some of the many problems included:
- The unusual, uncomfortable seating, consisting solely of meditation cushions, complete with instructions for attempting “full lotus position” seating for theater-goers, created numerous complaints of low back pain, leg spasms, and a craving for pretzels. A persistent, audible groan of discomfort from the audience interfered with the musical’s touching and delicate penultimate number, “How Do You Love A Wavicle?”, with its touching dilemma of young lovers trying to make out while transforming randomly from particle to waveform.
- The first act’s closing dance piece, featuring existential and harmonic interplay between sets of actors conveying both a “separate self” sensibility and non-duality, broke down as the separate self actors competed for individual attention and the non-dual actors kept parroting whatever they heard, being non-dual and all.
- Act two’s “West Side Story”-like musical battle between rival gangs, “Crystals and Granola” versus “Nuts and Bolts”, was hampered by shoddy workmanship on the Bob Fosse-styled costumes, scattering poorly-secured glass, cereal and hardware on the stage and affording unintended mirth at the slapstick-style pratfalls of the performers.
- The most unfortunate event of the benighted evening occurring during the rousing finale, which apparently meant to symbolize the advantage of nut-and-bolts approaches to mindful practice via silver paper confetti floating down on attendees. Mistakes in pre-production communication led to actual nuts and bolts being dropped from the rafters on the unsuspecting patrons, with a resulting bloodbath of head lacerations and contusions.
With only playbills available as cranial protection and then as ersatz bandages, one block of Broadway was quickly converted to a field hospital, with show producers offering refunds and logo’ed PMTM meditation cushions to the injured for seating comfort. “Covering their asses more than mine!”, one litigious theatergoer was heard to complain to medical staff.
The New York Times’ scorching review of PMTM, entitled, “Om, the Humanity!”, sealed the fate of this once-promising production.
(Stay safe…. and look out for hardware.) GCS