West End producers more interested in musicals than plays

August 2nd, 2008 - 12:27 pm ICT by ANI  

London, August 2 (ANI): West End producers have warned that theatre these days has become dominated by musicals, and staging plays is growing harder and harder.

Theatre luminaries feel that the domination of shows like Mamma Mia! and Dirty Dancing over London’’s best known commercial theatres is due to the fact that they are much more likely to break even.

However, producers and theatre owners seem averse to staging plays, they add.

According to them, only seven plays are showing in the West End at the moment as compared to 24 musicals.

Nica Burns, chief executive of Nimax Theatres, attributes the reduction in play staging to high costs.

“It is definitely harder to do plays now. Cost is a big issue,” the Telegraph quoted her as saying.

She said that small theatres might consider a run of 10,000 seats sold a success, but the case was quite different for West End producers.

“In the West End, I have to sell 50,000 or 100,000. I can”t do a West End play now without a marketing budget of less than PS100,000,” she said.

She also said that the growth of the subsidised sector made it difficult for commercial theatres to compete when it came to plays.

“We are very glad it is there, but they are there to take risks. In the West End we have had to adapt and change because we are running businesses,” she added.

David Pugh, the award winning producer behind such critical and commercial successes as Art, Equus, God of Carnage and Brief Encounter, said: “Musicals have a lot more money to spend.”

He further said that the success of television shows like the BBCs How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria? have also dealt a blow to plays.

He, however, urged producers and directors to give plays a go.

“It’’s tough but it’’s tough in every business at the moment. It hasn”t stopped us trying to put on new plays,” he said.

Richard Palford, chief executive of the Society of London Theatres, said that the credit crunch had not yet affected West End sales.

“Takings so far this year are up on last year, and that was a record year,” he said. (ANI)

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