With increasing frequency social media has been carrying criticisms of theatre producers for not supporting new British musical theatre composers and lyricists. Something that seems to be gathering momentum amongst the industry. However, are we being fair?
The creation, gestation, birth and production cost of a new musical is an order of magnitude more difficult than the similar process for a piece of drama, and in the UK unlike in the USA there is no 'greenhouse' to nurture the creators of musical theatre. This is not to say that the creation of a play is easy, for it too has its difficulties, but the large musical, with its crucial inter-dependence between book and score, its larger team of interpreters director, musical director, choreographer etc , often larger cast size and its generally larger production scale, conspire to throw up problems not usually faced by the producer of a straight play. We strongly believe in the need to develop and support the talents of British writers and composers and consequently we have a strategy of representing 'homegrown' creative people wherever possible.
British musical theatre is at risk of being left behind by America unless there is investment in original work that values underrepresented voices, according to industry figures who have called for arts subsidy to be spent on the sector. In the past it had to have that or the movie would not be possible. Mark Herbert of Warp films, which is producing the movie adaptation of Jamie and has a reputation for gritty northern dramas, said there was no hesitation in taking on a musical. We did not want Jamie to feel gritty; we want it to feel magical. Goold said he believed two things would improve the situation in the UK: subsidising musical theatre becoming more acceptable and more joined-up thinking on cooperation between emerging commercial producers and subsidised houses.
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