A variety of issues

Looking quickly at some interesting topics that have been mentioned to me by people lately.

Looking quickly at some interesting topics that have been mentioned to me by people lately.

People still mention the fact that we have very limited access to discounted tickets for mainstream commercial shows in Australia. We all know so much of the vibrant theatre economy in New York is based on the success of the half price ticket booth in Times Square. Of course there used to be a half price ticket booths in both Sydney and Melbourne. They were never very successful. The main reason for this is the producers of the big commercial shows (mainly musicals ) did not get behind it. Despite the proof of selling empty seats at a discount and proving it works in New York (and to a lesser extent in London) local producers were and still are sceptical. It’s a shame. So many young people just don’t get to see the big shows here, because they can’t afford it. Student Rush also seems to be a thing of the past in Australia. Why? It’s a good question, but unless we can make very cheap seats available to students and young people, there will be no future audience carrying theatrical experiences in their heart and turning them into well heeled theatre goers of the future. Look how the very cheap front row lottery seats for Wicked helped create a whole young fan base for that show. How about some original marketing in this area  at least?

I agree whole heartedly with Troy Dodds’ column this week. We are heading into risky territory with many musicals in 2011. I don’t see Rock of Ages as particularly risky, it is already being promoted to a very specific audience base. Clever marketing has already seen this show find a fan base in America and I feel we will follow here. The New Theatricals organisation know their stuff with marketing (look at Jersey Boys, another show that would have seemed on paper to be risky for an Australian audience) and I believe Rock of Ages though not appealing to the average theatre crowd, will find its fan base. But Doctor Zhivago and Love never Dies are risks. Especially Zhivago. With an unknown score and only one star name to make it appeal to that middle class theatre audience for which it is aimed. I agree, it will either sink or swim. I can’t see a mid range success. It will either flop or fly magnificently. Love never Dies has the Webber name and the Phantom franchise to keep it going even if it meets with critical barbs. I feel quietly confident that Simon Phillips will find a new way into this show. Certainly if these two shows succeed, we will see a plethora of Broadway bound musicals using Australia as a very out of town tryout ground. Is this good or bad? I am not convinced. !

I am always reading on broadway.com (who I think must have either shares in the show or an editor in love with someone in the cast!!) that Glee is creating a new generation of music theatre fans. I remain far from convinced. When the show first started I thought this was the case, but as the scriptwriting gets sillier and sillier and focuses more and more on the romances between the students and the music becomes more and more pop dominated, I feel it is cultivating more the MTV crowd than a new generation of theatre junkies. The latest release on CD of Glee songs has none of the theatre based show songs featured in the show. They have all been relegated to itunes and people who may wish to seek them out there. Whereas last year songs like ‘Maybe This Time’, ‘I Dreamed a Dream’ and ‘Defying Gravity’ were reaching a new “kiddie” audience, the producers of the latest CD obviously feel that popcorn nonsense by Britney Spears is more the audience of the new CD than a version of ‘Make Em Laugh’, ‘Get Happy’ or ‘Nowadays’ (all show songs recently featured in the show).  I think the show will continue down market more and more and no, I doubt, it will breed a new generation of people wanting to go to the music theatre. Shame! Great opportunity wasted. !!

Even if it is far from certain whether we shall see a 25th anniversary production of Les Miserables in 2012, it is pleasing to see that the DVD of the 25th Anniversary concert which I spent so much time discussing here a few weeks ago, will be released in Australia December 1st. Grab a copy! If you love music theatre or love this show, it will be your best Xmas present.

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