Rough previews delay ‘Vibrations’ bow

Troubled jukebox musical undergoes changes

Following a preview period that hasn’t exactly been fun, fun, fun, the opening of Beach Boys musical “Good Vibrations” has been pushed back a week to Feb. 2.

Originally scheduled to bow Jan. 27, the jukebox musical has been undergoing changes since previews began Dec. 20. One sign of trouble is that director David Warren (Barry Manilow tuner “Harmony”) has been brought in to help out director-choreographer John Carrafa.

While Carrafa snagged Tony noms for choreographing “Into the Woods” and “Urinetown,” he struck out with the critical and commercial failure “Dance of the Vampires.” Carrafa is making his Broadway helming debut on “Vibrations.”

Carrafa has been stepping onstage during previews to remind auds, “The preview period is a special time in the development of a brand new Broadway musical.”

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“American Idol” runner-up Justin Guarini dropped out of the show before the start of previews, and last week Chad Kimball announced he would leave soon after “Vibrations” opens to join the cast of “Lennon.” That upcoming tuner, based on the life and post-Beatles songs of John Lennon, is set to bow on Broadway this summer.

Amateur criticism of “Good Vibrations” on popular Internet discussion forum All That Chat has been overwhelmingly negative.

Capitalization and advance sales figures on the show have not been disclosed.

A spokesman for the tuner had no comment on Warren, who helmed “Holiday” (1995) and “Summer and Smoke” (1996) on Broadway, except to say: “John Carrafa is still the director and choreographer of the show.”

Musicals have a long history of bringing in outside advisers. Jeff Calhoun became an uncredited “choreographic consultant” to the Christopher Renshaw-directed, Mark Dendy-choreographed “Taboo” in fall 2003. Rob Marshall replaced Frank Galati on “Seussical” in 2000 and helmer Des McAnuff replaced Renshaw on “High Society” in 1998. Neither Marshall nor McAnuff was credited.

George Abbott, Jerome Robbins and Hal Prince practically made second careers out of giving tips to troubled shows, and Neil Simon earned the moniker “Doc” for his surgery on ailing scripts.

A flop would be bad news for Dodger Stage Holding, one of “Vibrations'” producers. The company saw two of its shows close Jan. 2: “Dracula,” the short-lived critical pinata, and “42nd Street,” which did not recoup its $12 million capitalization despite running for three years and eight months.

Last fall, the Dodgers opened up a new five-theater, $23 million Off Broadway complex. One of its first planned occupants, the musical “Bare,” which the Dodgers also produced, saw its finances fall apart. In October, the company announced staff cutbacks.

Wouldn’t it be nice … if they could deliver a hit.

(Robert Hofler contributed to this report.)