David Lister: Even Lloyd Webber couldn't fight the power of the blogger

The Week in Arts

The early closure of an Andrew Lloyd Webber musical after just a year is newsworthy in itself.

But the decision to close his latest, the Phantom of the Opera sequel Love Never Dies, after such a short period is more than newsworthy. It is a turning point for West End theatre.

Forget the stories that the initial reviews were poor. They were the usual mixed bag, with this paper actually giving the show a five-star rave. When the production was tweaked recently by impresario Bill Kenwright, it became even better, as a quote from my own review of the tweaked production says on the posters. This show is not closing because of anything the recognised critics may have written. It is closing because of three words used by an anonymous blogger.

This phantom blogger (if Lord Lloyd-Webber will excuse the description) attended a preview, disliked it, and posted a blog before the show had even officially opened under the name West End Whingers. He (or perhaps she) pungently nicknamed the musical "Paint Never Dries".

The joke, just the right length for a headline, was picked up by a number of newspapers and spread rapidly on the net. To the fury of Andrew Lloyd Webber, the agenda was set before the opening night. Those three little words appeared in article after article, and Love Never Dies never really recovered.

Nor has the West End recovered. The realisation has dawned that the importance of the critic is no longer paramount. It is the blogger, the anonymous theatregoer, who has the power to make or break a show. He or she can attend a preview, come up with a memorably damning phrase, which then goes viral and puts tens of thousands of people off buying tickets.

No wonder West End producers are panicking. They may have never loved the established critics, but they knew their foibles; they knew where they were coming from, and they knew they would usually wait for the official first night. The bloggers don't abide by rules; their views are utterly unpredictable, and they have a large readership.

I've heard an intriguing rumour that one producer got wind of an unfavourable comment about a new show – this time on Twitter rather than a blog – traced the tweeter, and made some pretty heavy threats to force him to delete the tweet.

Producers are panicking, but perhaps the rest of us should be more relaxed. In fact, we should be pleased. What we are seeing is the democratisation of criticism. Every theatregoer has a right to express their view about a show. No one group of writers has a monopoly on criticism any more. I firmly expect to see positive blogs and tweets quoted on the billboards outside theatres in the future. And no amount of threats will keep the negative ones away for long.

The new age of criticism is here. And Andrew Lloyd Webber, as so often, is in the vanguard. He has just become the first victim.

Hollywood walk of the slightly famous

One of the guilty pleasures of a visit to Los Angeles is treading the Hollywood Walk of Fame and looking down at the names of a century of legends. This week the Hollywood Walk of Fame selection committee announced its nominations for the latest additions – or, as they termed it, "a fabulous slate of stars to add sparkle and lustre" – to the famed sidewalk. They included Kate Winslet, which seems reasonable, Jennifer Lopez, which seems slightly less reasonable, and, with a nod to the music industry, musicians Boyz II Men and Ann and Nancy Wilson of the band Heart, which seems downright disrespectful to historic paving stones.

Legends they ain't. Quite how does the puzzled tourist make the logical leap from Jimmy Stewart, Greta Garbo and Sean Connery to Ann and Nancy Wilson? The grandly titled Hollywood Walk of Fame Selection Committee needs to think more clearly about what the words Hollywood and fame actually mean.



PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Martin Freeman as Lester Nygaard in the TV adaptation of 'Fargo'

TV
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Shakespeare in Love at the Noel Coward Theatre
theatreReview: Shakespeare in Love has moments of sheer stage poetry mixed with effervescent fun
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson stars in Hercules

film
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'

film
Arts and Entertainment
<p><strong>2008</strong></p>
<p>Troubled actor Robert Downey Jr cements his comeback from drug problems by bagging the lead role in Iron Man. Two further films follow</p>

film
Arts and Entertainment

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Tycoons' text: Warren Buffett and Bill Gates both cite John Brookes' 'Business Adventures' as their favourite book

books
Arts and Entertainment
Panic! In The Disco's Brendon Urie performs on stage

music
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game

film
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Radio 4's Today programme host Evan Davis has been announced as the new face of Newsnight

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams performing on the Main Stage at the Wireless Festival in Finsbury Park, north London

music
Arts and Entertainment
Carrie Mathison returns to the field in the fourth season of Showtime's Homeland

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Crowds soak up the atmosphere at Latitude Festival

music
Arts and Entertainment
Meyne Wyatt and Caren Pistorus arrive for the AACTA Aawrds in Sydney, Australia

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Rick Astley's original music video for 'Never Gonna Give You Up' has been removed from YouTube

music
Arts and Entertainment
Quentin Blake's 'Artists on the beach'

Artists unveils new exhibition inspired by Hastings beach

art
Arts and Entertainment
MusicFans were left disappointed after technical issues
Arts and Entertainment
'Girl with a Pearl Earring' by Johannes Vermeer, c. 1665
artWhat is it about the period that so enthrals novelists?
Arts and Entertainment
Into the woods: The Merry Wives of Windsor at Petersfield
theatreOpen-air productions are the cue for better box-office receipts, new audiences, more interesting artistic challenges – and a picnic
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

    Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

    The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

    Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

    Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
    German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

    Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

    Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
    BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

    BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

    The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
    Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

    Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

    Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
    How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

    Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

    Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
    Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

    Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

    Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
    10 best reed diffusers

    Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

    Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

    Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

    There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
    Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

    Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

    It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
    Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

    Screwing your way to the top?

    Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
    Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

    Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

    Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

    The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
    The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

    The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

    Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
    US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

    Meet the US Army's shooting star

    Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform