News: Song and dance in the West End

Friday 30 July 2004

West End drama is in crisis, but more musicals are opening in London all the time. Meanwhile adventurous programming is also paying off – as in the Barbican’s BITE seasons.

Musicals (unless by Stephen Sondheim) are mere entertainment for the masses (and not often that, chorus the critics), while straight theatre is art, worthy of serious appreciation. But is this correct? Only a fool, surely, believes that a great musical is inferior to a great play. Michael Coveney ponders in the Independent, 30 Jul

“We are trying not to operate in the middle of the road,”
said [Graham]Sheffield, [Artistic Director] describing the success of the Barbican International Festival of Theatre (Bite). “It’s the adventurous stuff that does better. Whereas in the West End, it’s the middle of the road that they have traditionally occupied. But we are doing very well. We do like to think it is something to do with our programming.” Guardian, 23 Jul

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