Remaining time: 

The rise and rise of the Rock Musical

As Bat Out of Hell returns to London, moving from the Coliseum to the Dominion Theatre, it finds itself in good the company of other rock musicals. Bat Out of Hell is a musical epic as an album but add in the story of The Lost, frozen in time and an array of love stories BooH is now an epic musical.

The rise and rise of the Rock Musical

In April 2018 Tina: the Tina Turner Musical opened at the Aldwych Theatre about Tina Turner. Directed by Phyllida Lloyd Tina is a musical biography incorporating her Ike and Tina Turner Revue era songs and the songs that made her 1980s comeback such a success. The rock musical genre seems to know what audiences want.

The rock musical is often dismissed as a ‘jukebox musical’ but in the 1970s shows such as Jesus Christ Superstar and Tommy proved there was a market for original songs in musical setting (though Tommy is more of Rock Opera). Audiences want a good story and if they can’t get that they want songs they know and love.

The turning point came in 2002 with Queen musical We Will Rock You, written by Ben Elton and panned by critics it was a smash hit with audiences becoming the 10th longest running musical when it closed at the Dominion in 2014. Tottenham Court Road hasn’t been the same without Freddie Mercury looming over it.

A string of rock jukebox musicals was to follow; American Idiot, Spring Awakening, Rock of Ages, The Toxic Avenger to name a few. In 2018 Knights of the Rose, a new musical will debut at the Arts Theatre. The blurb makes it sound like a rocky Game of Thrones but with songs by Bon Jovi, Bonnie Tyler, Meatloaf and No Doubt; this show has the potential to attract the audiences that have made shows like Rocky Horror, Bat Out of Hell and We Will Rock You gain huge successes in London and across the world.

Does the rock musical have a future? Of course, it does. Audiences value a good tune over a good plotline. Musicals are easier to market than plays and there is no shortage of actors willing to show their vocal range and acting chops. Whilst the reliance on already successful tunes may dishearten new composers the rock audience needs to trust any new work and a familiarity with the songs will lead to new audiences, who may grow to love books with original compositions.

Related news

Songs for Nobodies Tickets at the Ambassadors Theatre

London Theatre Review: Songs for Nobodies at the Ambassadors Theatre

Posted on | By Laura Franek |

Nestled in the gorgeous Ambassadors Theatre on West Street, the delightful Songs for Nobodies by Joanna Murray-Smith ... Read more

London Theatre Review: The Mousetrap at St. Martin's Theatre

Posted on | By Kay Johal |

After 66 years and over 27,500 performances, it can simply be said that The Mousetrap has truly cemented its place in... Read more

#WestEndWishList Mean Girls

Posted on | By Ephram Ryan |

Is the West End a carb? 2020 is shaping up to be a big year for Theatreland thanks not only to the announcement that&... Read more

Follow us for instant updates and special offers

Sign up to our mailing list and be the first to hear about new West End shows and exclusive ticket discounts. We value your privacy. You can unsubscribe at any time. But we hope you won’t!