STAGEY ALERT: why British Musicals are still amazing.

Shaftesbury Avenue, London

Good Afternoon one and all,

I hope we have all been enjoying a suitably merry and relaxed bank holiday weekend. Mine has consisted of takeaways, Despicable Me 2 and making a batch of cookies far too big for two people (of which i shall share the recipe on here… one day… when i’m nice enough to share the yumminess!)

So yes, first of all. I AM LATE! I usually post every Thursday but this week became suitable manic so apologies first of all. But I also wanted to wait for the dust to settle surrounding the closure of I Can’t Sing the musical. This week I wanted to get a bit stagey and discuss the state of Musical Theatre in Britain at the moment. Having only seen I Can’t Sing three weeks ago, I was shocked to hear it was closing mid-May. Now, I Can’t Sing may not be a mind-blowing spectacular but it is providing very talented people within our industry a great showcase for their skills. In my opinion, the cast and crew made something great out of what they were given and i didn’t stop laughing throughout! But still this show is closing after only 6 or so weeks.

I Cant’ Sing is following in the very recent footsteps of From Here to Eternity and Stephen Ward – two more British musicals that didn’t have the run they had hoped for. Again, all of these shows have their merit. But why are they losing out? It seems that our industry (or at least the marketing and advertising companies) seem to be turning their back on shows written by British writers. Why didn’t these shows get the marketing that they deserved? Is it not budgeted? Or is it simply assumed that these shows will have a safe run because they are British? Maybe it’s that producers are going for the “safe bet” when really the public are looking for something more from our British writers? We could try and figure it out but, as we all know, the nature of this industry is that nothing is based on real reason. It’s all subjective. My fear now is that this trend of “failing” musicals will now hinder the production of new brilliant British writing, with producers now seeing it as risky business.

Well producers of Great Britain – I AM HERE TO CHANGE YOUR MIND. Here are my reasons for putting on BRITISH musicals in the west end:

We have the best source materials to create musicals from!

(I Can’t Sing – The X Factor Musical)

Charles Dickens, William Shakespeare, Monty Python, The X Factor – Britain has a crazy amount of history and brilliance to draw inspiration from. The fact that we can even have a musical about the X Factor and then a musical based around Monty Python shows how amazing this tiny little island is. If we can make a musical about winning a reality show.. then we still have hope to create something more brilliant yet!

We have companies in the UK dedicated to creating new musicals.

(Lift the Musical)

Perfect Pitch and Mercury Musicals who are both dedicated to nurturing new musical theatre writing are just the tip of the iceberg of developing writing in Britain. The National Theatre, RSC and now the English National Opera are also leading the way in developing new musicals for the masses. So big-wig West End Producers, follow suit please! Matilda is proof enough that a bit of trust, some development and a whole heap of talent (even if it is Aussie Mr Minchin!) can create an international hit! The talent is there, it just needs to be found!

(If you hadn’t heard about ENO’s new announcement, read more here: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/music/opera/10795780/ENO-moves-into-the-West-End-musical-business.html”

We have produced some of the best talent… and there’s still more to be discovered.

(Sweeney Todd)

Britain has been the birthplace of Elaine Paige, Michael Ball, JOHN BARROWMAN, PEOPLE!! Classic musical theatre talent (Alongside the whole list of people in the West End, Off-west end and the fringe that are killing it 8 times a week). We are graced with Tony and Olivier award winners even in our smallest venues. We train brilliant actors over here (some who may not have even had the chance to shine yet) and as actors, choreographers, musical directors, techies, we all deserve to have new British material to work with.

We create shows.. that require awesome costumes.

(Dogs the Musical….. Just Kidding)

Oh thank you Lord (Yes i mean you Andrew!) for giving performers everywhere the opportunity to dance around in cat costumes. (The cat lady in me wishes i was more flexible!)

Jokes aside though, it seems we are losing out to Broadway transfers or jukebox musicals that producers know will “pull in the punters” when we deserve better. We need to showcase the talent we have on offer in this country and show the British public what brilliant home-grown talent we have.

I was lucky enough to attend a cabaret last Sunday called THE PLATFORM LDN created and produced by twenty something productions. The evening was created and inspired by PLATFORM NYC where new composers were given a place to showcase their work for the general public, using new talent. Now although twenty something used American composers again, I feel the premise for this evening is something that more young companies should be taking inspiration from. I’d be really intrigued to know if people could give me a list of 5 young musical theatre composers that are from Britain. I honestly don’t know very many and it seems that either we don’t have many (LIES) or they are hiding in the shadows of their American counterparts. WELL BRITISH WRITERS – IT’S TIME TO TAKE THE SPOTLIGHT I’M AFRAID! I recently put a call out for new British writers to send me some links – THE OFFER STILL STANDS.

I’m looking for British writers who I can showcase on my blog, and hopefully, in time, in an evening of new work, performed by fresh actors who haven’t already been circulating the cabaret scene. (That’s another thing that ticks me off… a lot of cabarets with the same “fresh” faces! It was nice to see some actual new talent I hadn’t seen before at PLATFORM LDN, so thank you twenty something! See my full review of the show here!) If you want to test the waters with a newly recorded song, or you are interested in potentially being featured on my blog then please do get in touch – who knows where it could lead to in the future?

So where does the future of British musical theatre lie? It lies with us – the crazy people brave enough to be in this industry! We have to make the choices to put on new work or spread the word about that composer whose music deserves to be heard. So, my lovelies, start making the choices! Go out and see new work, support new writing, and take opportunities to show that we have something worth investing in. And if all else fails – don some Cat face paint and remember why it is that we put ourselves through this torment.

My best of wishes goes to the I Can’t Sing cast and crew, and i hope that each and every member of the team moves on to bigger and better things!

ENOUGH STAGEY NOW.

Have a brilliant week all!

Koko xx

If you have some material you would like to be showcased then please do tweet me @koko91 or email kayleigh.mcknight91@gmail.com

Featured links:

http://www.perfectpitchmusicals.com/

http://mercurymusicals.com/

http://www.icantsingthemusical.com/

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