MTAS Blogger Katie Rose (@) looks at what it takes for a show to be successful both sides of the pond!
With hearing the Matilda the Musical has recently closed on Broadway, and with School of Rock recently opening on West End, I got to thinking about the Broadway Vs West End ratio of successful Musicals.
We all have different taste as to what we like, that’s a given to humanity, but it’s amazing to see that this can also affect the theatrical worlds too.
So why is this? Why does Broadway tend to get newer and different musicals compared to the West End on a more regular basis? For instance there have been many Musicals that have performed on the stages of Broadway that have never made it to the West End. For example Disney’s Tarzan, Newsies , The Little Mermaid, Brooklyn the Musical, How to Succeed in Business without even Trying (starring Daniel Radcliffe) and If/Then weren’t lucky to cross over the pond. Many of those above are in my musical Playlist on iTunes and all of which I would have loved to have seen live! But it seems that if it doesn’t do great on Broadway then why swim to the West End? As I said we have different taste and it works both ways too.
Take Matilda for instance and its recent closure on Broadway which ran for just under a 4 years. Premiering in 2013 (3 years after West End) here in the West End it’s still going strong and entering its 7th Year at the Cambridge Theatre. Now you may say – Well it’s a British story, not the Film version which they may not have liked? But then you see Kinky Boots still raking in the ticket sales for all to see in Broadway. Kinky Boots opened before it hit the West End and also a film before stage. Also We Will Rock You never broke Broadway (although it performed in Las Vegas) and did not do as well as one would have hoped than it did in its Ten Years at the Dominion Theatre. We felt that everyone loved the iconic music of Queen!
I guess in some ways it is what it is, I remember once when Sister Act was coming out as a musical Whoopi Goldberg was co. producing it. Everyone wondered – Why did she wish for it to Premiere in the West End? Her reply ‘The West End is more accepting…’ and I can see why she would think this. Compared to the West End, Broadway has a lot more theatres within its city, each one inviting new musicals/plays to perform. In London we like to keep our musicals home and Les Miserables has entered its 32nd Year with no sign of budging from the Queen Theatre, whilst it only had a limited run on Broadway. Woman in Black has yet to move from the Fortune Theatre and has not even seen Time Square. We just tend to keep the shows going longer than what they do on Broadway. Phantom of the Opera is the only musical that Broadway and West End can agree on, becoming one of the longest running musicals in both cities.
I will be interested in seeing how the upcoming musical Hamilton breaks the West End. Showing at the Victoria Palace Theatre, we all know how high demand it was and is on Broadway. I’ve had many people give me mix views on this, saying they can’t wait, or it’s not going to do as well. I for one am excited. Yes, it is about American History and their win for independence told through the story of Alexander Hamilton. But there is no denying that the songs are brilliant from Lin Manuel Miranda, (who also wrote in the Heights) though I admit may not be for all ages, compared to other musicals. Also Les Miserable and Miss Saigon were both war driven independence fighting musicals and we all loved them. So how will this be any different?
In the future I hope to see a little more variety coming to the West End. Maybe we may need to embrace change and accept new, we may be pleasantly surprised. I for one, would Love to see Something Rotten,Waitress and Finding Neverland (already rumoured) hit the light of West End.
What are your views? Are there any shows you would like to see one West End that has hit Broadway? Let us know!