Reality TV shows create boom in theatre attendance
The popularity of television reality shows such as How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria? and Any Dream Will Do has led to record ticket sales and attendances in London's theatreland.
In 2007, attendances rose 10 per cent from the previous year to 13.63 million, while ticket sales soared to £469.7m. The rise can largely be attributed to a spate of reality television shows in which contestants vied for parts in West End musicals, persuading a new, younger audience to see the shows in the flesh.
Connie Fisher shot to fame when she won the 2006 BBC talent contest How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria? to secure the lead role in Andrew Lloyd Webber's production of The Sound of Music at the London Palladium. Maria was a huge success, pulling in nearly 8 million viewers for its final results show. Last year BBC 1 followed it up with Any Dream Will Do, a search for a Joseph to star in the West End revival of Lloyd Webber's Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, won by Lee Mead.
ITV also made its own version of the musical talent contest, Grease Is The Word, although this only attracted 4 million viewers at its climax.
The television ratings reflecting the shows' popularity were replicated at the box office. Musicals accounted for 8.9 million theatre attendances last year, a rise of 19 per cent on 2006.
Although there is no breakdown for individual shows, more than a million people have been to see The Sound of Music since it opened in November 2006, while Joseph has been sold out since it opened. Both productions are currently booking until October 2008, but will almost certainly extend their runs beyond that date.
The question is whether having visited the West End to see the stage show of their favourite TV programme, this new audience will return to see future productions. Rosemary Squire, the president of the Society of London Theatres, said: "I'm very optimistic. If you go and have a wonderful time, you are more likely to go back."
Attendances at plays rose by a more modest 1 per cent to 2.95 million. Notable successes included Elling, starring John Simm at the Trafalgar Studios; and Macbeth starring Patrick Stewart at the Gielgud Theatre.
Ms Squire sounded a note of caution, warning that in 2008, London theatres are likely to suffer from the credit crunch and the weak dollar, which is also putting off theatregoers from America.
Geoffrey Macnab reviews American Hustle, also starring Christian Bale and Bradley Cooper
elephant appealThe first 23 lots in our charity auction have now gone. But there are 22 more still up for grabs
Michelle Nijhuis' daughter insists (s)he is, and she learnt a valuable lesson on gender in books
It takes a platoon of chefs, litres of brandy and rum, and almost 100kg of dried fruit
newsThat most ancient of crimes is on the rise, threatening farmers' livelihoods, community trust – and human health
Arts & Ents blogs
Christmas comes early: Justin Bieber is 'retiring from music'
Justin Bieber is NOT retiring from music
Nymphomaniac, film review: 'Despite the surreal sex scenes this is a serious drama'
Call the Midwife Christmas special: Behind the scenes with Miranda Hart
Justin Bieber's mishaps and controversies
Exclusive: Young people ‘want UK to stay in Europe’: Four in 10 adults aged 18 to 24 are ‘firmly in favour’ of membership, poll shows
Tom Daley ‘is gay because his father died’ says UK evangelist
You can STILL be jailed for being a republican, government confirms, and it remains illegal to even 'imagine' overthrowing the Queen
Kiss and yell: Italian protester charged with sexual assault after kissing riot police officer
Iain Duncan Smith leaves Commons food banks debate early
Fighting back: the woman giving a voice (and 49,999 others) to the victims of sexism - by giving an airing to their horror stories
- 1 America's 'virgin births'? One in 200 mothers 'became pregnant without having sex'
- 2 Sun will 'flip upside down' within weeks, says Nasa
- 3 Christmas comes early: Justin Bieber is 'retiring from music'
- 4 Iain Duncan Smith leaves Commons food banks debate early
- 5 Children evacuated from swimming pool after prosthetic leg mistaken for paedophile
- < Previous
- Next >