When you are looking for a theatre break london really does have the crème de la crème of what is on in the UK right now. As England's capital London is the ultimate goal for a fledgling production. Smaller productions may be tried out around the country and if they garner enough interest they eventually transfer to a larger London venue in order to reach a broader audience. By this point, any fine tuning with regard to script rewrites for new plays, set and costume ideas and of course the cast itself will usually have been finalised. Mounting a theatre production can be wildly expensive and producers will need almost capacity houses for a fair few months before they even begin to make their money back, certainly on larger scale productions.
This is never truer than with the big budget musicals. The outlay for these shows is huge as the audience has to be kept enthralled for anything up to three hours, oftentimes with a story they already know. This leads to elaborate multi level sets, expensive lighting, ropework illusions, starrier names, larger ensemble casts…the list goes on. To rake in the punters a new show needs a talking point for when Joe Public and the harsh critics leave. What is Phantom without it's crashing chandelier and atmospheric underground boatride? Who wants to be off to see the Wizard without a jawdropping tornado? Les Miserables' boisterous crowd scenes with a cast of three? Forget it! These days audiences want a spectacle and the wow factor. Even with preparation a show can flop. Bad Girls: The Musical had a snappy script, lively songs and some of the stars from the popular TV series. It was tried out in the West Yorkshire Playhouse in Leeds before opening at the Garrick Theatre in September 2007, but without packed houses it had to close way ahead of schedule two months later. And that was one of the luckier ones. 2004's Oscar Wilde by former Radio 1 DJ Mike Read opened and closed on the same night, unable to withstand scathing reviews.
Fortunately the very fact that shows can become big money losers means that a great deal of care and attention is paid before any show opens in London. London is swimming with reviewers ready to get their claws out, so a show has to come out all guns blazing. When shows do start with a bang therefore, they tend to run and run. Critics were left so enraptured by Tracie Bennett's bravura performance as Judy Garland in End Of The Rainbow that it had to be extended and is now Broadway bound. Audiences have taken to spooky play Ghost Stories because it delivers something different, and that has reaped similar rewards. Reviews are a great barometer for what you should see when you come to the capital, but refer to a mix of sources as one man's meat is another man's poison.
Word of mouth recommendations are even better. It's always nice to be guided towards a great show by someone you know personally who has loved something…but even nicer to be the one to discover the gems yourself. How fun is it to be able to come back from a London trip to say you managed to get tickets to see such and such a star and be the envy of your friends, or to be credited with being the first of your circle to discover the new hit-to-be? If you book to see multiple shows during your theatre break london
is more than likely to deliver a whole hoard of differing treats for you to enjoy…and then rub in the faces of jealous friends. It's win win!