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New Musical, Old Musical

 

 

Following a number of musical theatre shows opening and closing in quick succession over the past few years, putting aside the global pandemic, it is unclear as to whether there is a successful musical theatre model on which to base a new show heading for Broadway or the West End. With some exceptions - such as The Book of Mormon and Harry Potter and the Cursed Child - it seems new shows are more likely to close than older, more established musicals.

Even shows which have had successful runs at the Chichester Festival - a seemingly successful breeding ground for West End transfers - have not always managed to survive in the city. When new musicals hit London's West End, as a particular example, there is often a sense of anticipation for something new to hit the stages, but many questions can be present in theatrical minds, first and foremost, how long will it last? Shows which have previously seen many years running successfully in London have not fared so well when they have been brought back: Cats, for example, had a limited run in the West End before touring extensively.

There is no middle ground for musical theatre, it seems. London is filled with either established 'classics' which have many years on their clocks, such as The Phantom of the Opera and Les Misérables, or young musicals which are just beginning their runs and perhaps cannot compete. There is the additional problem of ticket touts and the large price tags that adorn many of the show's tickets, meaning they are simply unaffordable for audiences.

There is now also the added pressure of managing and maintaining a show’s success following the pandemic, with recouping existing losses and general unpredictability thrown into the mix. It is certainly a tough road ahead for musicals both old and new.