This show was something of a mess on stage, for understandable reasons. The entire story of the original London show with the same name and score has been rewritten from the ground up, and the result is every bit as chaotic as you’d expect from such a process, especially as the London original was far from flawless to begin with. The show is a showbiz biography of glam-rock singer-songwriter Boy George, who also wrote the music and played one of the leads (although, contrary to what one might expect, he did not portray himself, but the other lead character, gay fashion icon Leigh Bowery, which is understandable given what he looks like now). Unfortunately, the show tried to pursue Boy George and Bowery’s stories simultaneously without providing any particularly compelling reason why these stories should be told side by side. The plot is a predictable soap opera about the perils of fame, and there were no less than seven main characters, including two constantly dueling narrators who spent the entire show bickering over their version of events, and many of those characters were reduced to little more than sketched-in side vocalists in the shuffle. The cast was full of talented people, with Raul Esparza and Liz McCartney as the narrators being particularly strong, but while the aging Boy George (billed by his real name, George O’Dowd) was still an extremely compelling singing performer and certainly didn’t lack for stage presence, he was no actor, which somewhat blunted the show’s impact. Also, a show about a tiny countercultural venue like the titular nightclub, where most of the show takes place, doesn’t really lend itself to a huge Broadway theater; many of the critics observed that the show would have played better at a more intimate venue. On top of all this, the show was in direct competition with a strikingly similar but vastly better musical that came out at the same time, The Boy From Oz, which had a similar subject matter, plot structure, and outlook but which also had the focus and dramatic impact that Taboo failed to find. That said, the show does feature one of the era’s most interesting scores. Contrary to what you might expect, this is not a jukebox musical: while a few of George’s old Culture Club standards are heard in passing, they are not emphasized, and the vast majority of the score was written specifically for the show, in a musical sound rather reminiscent of Young Americans-era David Bowie. Highlights include the striking opening “Freak/Ode to Attention Seekers”, an interesting twist on the traditional Hero’s Wanting Song called “Stranger In This World”, the moving quartet “Love Is a Question Mark”, and “Ich Bin Kunst”, which sounds rather like a pop version of the Emcee’s songs in Cabaret. Best of all are two ballads, the scorching “Talk Amongst Yourselves” and the heartrending “Il Adore”, and the dramatic stunner “Petrified”. Every critic seemed to speak positively of the show’s score, and many of them seemed to feel genuine guilt about their inevitable panning of the show as a result. And while the show is deeply flawed and its failure is not exactly surprising, one also understands why a big-name media personality like Rosie O’Donnell would choose to finance the Broadway production and tirelessly champion the show. O’Donnell has not given up on the show yet and claims she intends to remount it on Broadway someday, and since O’Donnell is well-known for her stubbornness in matters theatrical, it seems likely we have not heard the last of this flawed but fascinating theatrical curiosity yet.