Are There Too Many Musicals in the West End essay

Download this essay in word format (.doc)

Note: Sample below may appear distorted but all corresponding word document files contain proper formatting

Excerpt from essay:


Regarding the Concentration of West End Musicals

Michael BIllington believes that the theatre boom in the West End contributes to the degradation of the quality of theatre in London. I agree with Billington's position. The ticket prices in the West End coupled with the excessive amount of repetitive productions is not good for the theatre tradition or for the consuming public. Furthermore, I believe that the audiences have the power to effect creative change in the West End.

In his 2011 article, Billington has two primary concerns. One concern is the escalating prices of theatre tickets. His secondary concern is the reduction in originality and creative ingenuity of the theatre community. Thus, not only are tickets too expensive, audiences are paying rising prices for old ideas. The revivals and older plays are not even produced with a new creative spin -- like a Shakespearean play with a contemporary or conceptual twist. Those kinds of shows are not happening either.

A similar situation befell the Broadway theatre distinct in New York City. During the earlier portion of the 21st century and the latter of the 20th century, a great deal of productions on Broadway were remakes. Prices skyrockets and audiences dwindled. The press wondered if Broadway was dead or just in a coma. Then came along fresh ideas such as Green Day's "American Idiot" and Matt Stone & Trey Parker's "The Book of Mormon." Even the accident-prone "Spiderman," with more than its fair share of mishaps and delays, finally took off and invigorated Broadway in a way never previously done.

New ideas brought to life through the theatrical vehicle inspired altered the perspectives of audiences and producers regarding what kinds of narratives musical theatre and traditional theatre can tell. These ideas opened new avenues and make available new opportunities for shows. Audiences responded loudly and positively. Broadway is bigger than ever in New York City. Prices are low, moderate, and high, yet audiences are more willing to shell out the money because of the shift in quality of ideas and production. Therefore, there is potential in London.[footnoteRef:2] [2: Wolf, M. 2006. Does London have too many musicals? The New York Times, Available from 2012 February 22.]

The theatre tradition in Europe and in London proudly reaches back for centuries into history. I think it is because many of us enjoy the theatre so much and derive so much pleasure from it that writers such as Billington criticize the West End musicals so abruptly and directly. He writes: "In a nutshell, I'm delighted that West End business is holding up. But, before we start talking complacently about the 'theatre boom,' we should ponder both the escalating cost of tickets and the actual quality of what is in offer."[footnoteRef:3] [3: Billington, M. 2011. This West End theatre boom is not at all good news. The Guardian, Available from 2012 February 17.]

He does not want to see the theatre district shut down and defunct; he wishes the theatre tradition to thrive and grow. There lacks innovation and fresh perspective to many of the productions in the West End. Schmidt writes that the issues of rising prices and dwindling creativity has persisted since the 1990s:

"Ticket prices, which have increased 24% since 1991, have had an effect, too, as producers try to recoup some of the higher cost of theatrical production in London. But some critics and producers say the West End's difficulties are not merely the result of a downturn in economic fortunes, but rather a reflection of something much larger: the notion that the West End is struggling to redefine itself in the face not only of waning audiences but also of a nagging sense that truly innovative theater is being done elsewhere."[footnoteRef:4] [4: Schmidt, W. 1993. Identity Crisis for London's Theater District. The New York Times, Available from 2012 February 25.]

Billington and theatregoers who agree with him simply long for the thrill of captivating and new energy in West End musicals. He wants to generate awareness in the theatre-going public. He contends:

"But it's not just the rising ticket prices that worry me. It's also the sense of stasis afflicting the West End. There are, as ever, 20 musicals now running. The real problem, however, is that so many of them have been there so long or are spin-offs from movies or albums. The one cheering piece of news is that the forthcoming Betty Blue Eyes, admittedly based on an old Alan Bennett film, is at least the work of a living British musical team, George Stiles and Anthony Drewe. When it comes to plays, there is a heavy reliance on solid revivals…"[footnoteRef:5] [5: Billington, M. 2011. This West End theatre boom is not at all good news. The Guardian, Available from 2012 February 17.]

Billington seeks to inform the public that prices are going up and they are going up for no good reason. The same old shows are going up, only much more of them at once. We do not pay high prices to go see old films at the cinema. Why should we pay outrageous prices to see nothing but classic plays distilled to flat remakes?

How do the rising prices relate to the production of remakes? Schmidt presents the argument that

"At the heart of the problem are soaring production costs. According to one estimate, the cost of putting on a straight play in the West End has nearly tripled in the last 10 years, to as much as $375,000 for a production with a small cast and perhaps one set change. (Such a play would cost about three times that much on Broadway). As a result, critics argue, London producers and theater owners have been forced to raise ticket prices -- which can be more than $30 for many straight plays and close to $50 for musicals -- to recover growing expenses. And, perhaps more importantly, they have become increasingly wary of taking risks."[footnoteRef:6] [6: Schmidt, 1993. ]

These remakes and revivals are costing producers and costing audiences. Audiences pay the price of unoriginal ideas and soaring ticket prices. Eventually, despite tourism and tradition, audience participation in the theatre will dwindle. Producers pay the price as the costs to produce the remakes and revivals are higher than ever before. They pass the financial hardship over to the consumer who eventually will seek other, more cost effective means of comparable entertainment pedigree elsewhere. And where will the theatre tradition and the West End be then? Producers and consumers alike would pay a great cost with the lost and deterioration of the theatre tradition in London. Though these remakes draw crowds, they will not forever. Instead of pushing creative stagnation back with more new ideas, as Schmidt writes, producers are wary of trying anything new. They have created a bit of a Catch 22 in the West End. No one wins and everyone is stuck and dissatisfied.

The Society of West End Theatres disagrees with Billington as his assertions about theatre quality and ticket prices.[footnoteRef:7] According to Schmidt, [7: The Society of London Theatre. 2009. Theatreland boom begins in Leicester Square: tkts booth spearheads records sales in West End theatre. Available from 2012 February 22.]

"Not everyone agrees with that assessment. The Society of West End Theaters, which monitors audience and ticket data and aggressively markets London's commercial and subsidized theater, argues that the situation is not nearly as bad as critics like Mr. Billington contend. In fact, the society argues, the constant churning among West End playhouses is a sign of vitality rather than of trouble. There is also evidence, theater managers say, that a slight improvement in the economy is giving a second wind to a number of commercial productions that might not have survived only a few months…[continue]

Cite This Essay:

"Are There Too Many Musicals In The West End " (2012, March 02) Retrieved October 25, 2016, from

"Are There Too Many Musicals In The West End " 02 March 2012. Web.25 October. 2016. <>

"Are There Too Many Musicals In The West End ", 02 March 2012, Accessed.25 October. 2016,

Other Documents Pertaining To This Topic

  • West Side Story Like All Musical Films

    West Side Story Like all musical films, the West Side Story relates to a production where the characters sing songs and sometimes dance too, all with the view of developing the characters and advancing the plot of the film However, the movie brings to the fore various special features, which notably set it out as a historical document. The era in which the film was produced is also of massive importance considering

  • West Side Story Social Tension and Doomed

    West Side Story Social Tension and Doomed Romances in West Side Story Hundreds of years after Shakespeare's penning of Romeo and Juliet, the notion of warring families and star-crossed lovers has not waned in popularity. This is evident in the Academy Award-winning 1961 film West Side Story, which, stripped of its musical interludes and numerous dance numbers, becomes the adaptation of Shakespeare's romantic tragedy in its barest bones. Of course, West Side

  • Spectacle of Musical Theatre

    Technology in Musicals Musical theatre has existed in some form for centuries. Theatre is an art form that allows many emotions to be expressed through acting and music. While talented performers are most responsible for being characters to life and performing the music contained in the production, musical theatre also relies on other factors to guarantee the success of a musical. These factors are inclusive of ambience (i.e. The way that

  • 21st Century Many People in

    I also asked my uncle the following questions about movies in 1973: Question: How much did movie tickets cost that year? Answer: I don't remember exactly, but something like about $1.50 or $1.75 a ticket rings a bell. Also, they didn't have any matinee prices like they do now. Tickets were the same price all day. Question: What other movies came out that year that you remember? Answer: The Bond film Live and Let

  • Dramatic Elements of the Plot of Wicked

    Dramatic Elements of the Plot of "Wicked" Few stories have been as popular as that of "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz" which was written by L. Frank Baum (published in 1900), and was then turned into one of the most popular movies of all time in 1939. The plot of this particular story has gone through several incarnations, from "The Wiz" to various popular songs, and most recently it was reimagined

  • Intercultural Issues at Hyundai Inter Cultural

    Another major concern for Hyundai, already mentioned before in this introduction, is union efforts to unionize the plant that Hyundai operates in the United States. Union membership has declined steadily in the United States over the last couple of decades but their efforts remain very concerted and strong and the United Auto Workers (UAW), which is the union that works within the automakers domestic to the United States, are certainly

  • Traditional Se Asian Bamboo Flutes

    The organization of the five chapters in the study includes: Chapter I: Chapter I includes the design of the study, the study's research problem and three research questions, study objectives, the scope and limitations of the study, significance of the study of DNA, research methodology and philosophy of the studies from different related literature. Chapter II: During Chapter II, the researcher presents information to address the first research question; presented in

Read Full Essay
Copyright 2016 . All Rights Reserved