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.
Maisie Williams single-handedly rises to the challengeTV
Academy criticised after no non-white actors nominated
tvAn expose of hooliganism masquerading as an ideological battle
artLee Hadwin can't draw when he's awake, but by night he's an artist
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 The BBC has just done more to eradicate ‘terrorism’ than all our wars since 9/11
- 2 Dog thinks owner is drowning in lake, dives in and tries to pull him out
- 3 Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
- 4 Chilling drone footage captures Auschwitz ahead of 70th anniversary of liberation
- 5 Narendra Modi: Indian Prime Minister wears suit with pinstripes that spell his name to meet Barack Obama
Ed Sheeran texts Noel Gallagher to offer him tickets after that Wembley Stadium rant
Sia apologises for 'Elastic Heart' music video that sees Shia LaBeouf wrestle 12-year-old Maddie Ziegler
Taylor Swift banned from Triple J Hottest 100: Fans react to epic #Tay4Hottest100 defeat
Mortdecai becomes Johnny Depp's fifth consecutive box office bomb
Last Tango in Halifax, review: Can we ever really move on from Kate?
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
French court convicts three over homophobic tweets, in case hailed as a 'significant victory' by LGBT rights campaigners
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British Muslim school children suffering a backlash of abuse following Paris attacks
Islamic history is full of free thinkers - but recent attempts to suppress critical thought are verging on the absurd
Leaked documents show Ukip leaders approve NHS privatisation once it becomes more 'acceptable to the electorate'