We may think that West End Theatre is the best in the world, but not everyone does!… and that includes Louis Walsh.
What’s going on? It seems that West End Theatre is on the attack from all sides at the moment. (Slight exaggeration, but what is the West End without a touch of hysteria?!)
This week’s Vancouver Sun, one of Canada’s biggest newspapers, has run an article titled “London’s West End recycles old films instead of staging original plays” in which they slate (slag?) the current crop of West End musicals.
In the piece, the Sun’s reporter Jamie Portman claims that our “fabled West End theatre scene doesn’t seem so fabled these days” and goes on to cite The Bodyguard as example of “commercial opportunism”; “Necrophiliac fare does well here” he says of the Whitney Houston’d show, calling it “slickly staged trash”.
Portman also slates Thriller Live as “unsettling” and “a creepy homage to the shade of Michael Jackson”, and goes on to complain that ten of London’s theatres are housing “recycled movie material”. He does praise Billy Elliot, The Lion King and Spamalot as triumphs, but rubbishes recently closed Top Hat and forthcoming The Full Monty (which he presumably hasn’t yet seen).
With Portman declaring that the West End’s future pickings “remain slim”, we are left to assume that he is unimpressed with forthcoming West End productions of Conor McPherson’s masterpiece The Weir , Jez Butterworth’s award-winning play Mojo, countless National Theatre, Royal Court, Old Vic, Almeida and Donmar productions and much else.
It’s easily to get angry about pieces like this, but it is interesting to hear what people from outside of the UK think of the West End. We rarely question that our theatre is the best in the world. Maybe we shouldn’t be too complacent?
As if this wasn’t enough, The X-Factor judge Louis Walsh said this weekend on the show that the song choice of contestants Kingsland Road was “a little bit lazy, a little bit dated” and that, “sometimes I thought I was at a musical in the West End”.
Well, we were furious! Not only do musicals keep countless TV talent show stars in work, but Louis’s boss Simon Cowell is involved in major new West End musical I Can’t Sing – The X-factor Musical!
Don’t bite the hand that feeds you Louis, you know you’ll be dragged out to promote the musical sometime soon.