• michaelabennison

New Productions on the West End, Please?

As you may have noticed, if you've read some of my previous Blog posts or checked me out on Facebook and Twitter, theatre is kind of my thing. Whether it's an all-singing, all-dancing musical or a Shakespearean masterpiece, if I'm free and I have the money for a ticket I'm generally there.

Production photography for Pool No Water. SJ Theatre Productions, February 2014

I love being in shows too. Both plays and musicals. And touch wood that's what I'll spend my life doing.

Production photography for Jekyll and Hyde: The Musical. SUSU Showstoppers, May 2010.

And like many others who have a passion for theatre, I believe that musicals are just as important as straight plays as a means of artistic expression as well as live entertainment.

On Tuesday,The Stage Newspaper published this online article by Richard Jordan about how musical theatre may be better nurtured in the UK via the establishment of a 'National Musical Theatre'.

I'll admit that when I first read it I didn't entirely agree with further separating Musical Theatre from 'Straight Theatre' when, to my mind, they are essentially the same thing using the same theatrical tools in different ways. But on closer reading, there are many issues it would help to mitigate.

The National Theatre we have today has increasingly involved musical theatre in it's programs of new works, most recently withThe Light Princess and London Road, both of which won various awards. But neither received West End transfers, while War Horse and The Curious Incident of The Dog in The Night-Time, both plays, made the leap.

Many other new musical productions have incredibly successful runs off-West End but never transfer because of the greater financial risk musicals pose for producers; musicals are pricey. Having an institution such as a 'National Musical Theatre' could provide a safety net for new productions.

But maybe the whole attitude towards West End shows needs to change. Maybe if shows rotated more frequently rather than spending years running, producers and theatre owners would be willing to take more risks on new works. And maybe the public will be more open-minded about what they go and see. With shows like Les Mis, Mamma Mia and Phantom Of The Opera running so long and so successfully, it's easy to assume that is all the public wants.

It may well be that the public doesn't realise what it's missing...

Read Richard Jordan's article 'Why don't we have a National Musical Theatre?'

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