Talk about an unsatisfying ending…

So, Eric and I recently got tix to see Pal Joey on Broadway, with Stockard Channing. Despite the fact that I was exhausted and it was raining and all I really wanted to do was curl up in bed with a book, I was excited to see this old “goodie”. I knew nothing about the show, other than it boasted some popular songs like Bewitched and I Could Write a Book. But it was Rodgers and Hart, written in the 30s, so I assumed it would be a nice, romantic tale that might give me a bit of inspiration. 

Let me start by saying that the performances were great, and I had no beef with anyone on the stage, but…

It opened with a pretty great number, depicting the “hero” (and I’m using the term loosely here) as a rake. It was a dark, soft-shoe meets Fosse, kind of number that drew me right in. I’m a sucker for rake-turned-good-guy stories! 

Well, about halfway through Act I, when he makes the decision to “de-flower” the good girl, I realized that perhaps he wasn’t going to “arc” the way I wanted his character to “arc”. And when he seduced the rich, older woman (played by Stockard Channing) the next night, I was SURE the story was not going where I hoped it would go. 

By the end of Act I, I was bored with the mediocre music (sorry Rodgers!) and the disappointing book (sorry Hart!), so for the first time in our lives, Eric and I walked. I was sure I knew the ending (boy will have major life-changing event that drives him to the arms of the good girl and tosses the rich, older, married woman to the curb), but I didn’t think he deserved it because he was such a skeeze, so I really didn’t want to stick around to watch it. 


Little did I know that I was TOTALLY off! Joey doesn’t get the good girl OR the rich, older woman! He continues further into skeezdom, the good girl and the older woman plot against him, and we see his ultimate demise by the end of the show. 

Well, that would not have been a very satisfying ending for me either! So, I’m thrilled we left! But it’s had me thinking about plots and Happily Ever Afters…thinking about what readers (or audiences) want. I know what I want…I want to see a dynamic character, who gets his/her HEA because he/she deserves it! They can be flawed – they should be flawed – but I want to see them un-flaw themselves by the end…and I want to see that love conquers all…that forgiveness is possible, no matter the circumstances. These are the reasons I read and write romance! 

So, what do you look for when you read a book or see or show? What makes you put the book down or walk out of the theater?


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