Tuesday, 25 September 2012


It’s not scientific, but the few of these jukebox musicals that have come my way tend to suggest a conclusion that the presence of this type of thing has resulted in a lowering of theatrical standards. They draw audiences, but judging by Let It Be (review here) what ought to be unacceptable is being allowed through. 

Let It Be had its moments, which sweetened what would otherwise have left a nasty aftertaste. But it wasn’t consistent and took too many shortcuts. Starting by thinking that replacing harmonica parts with an off-stage keyboard and no one would care is emblematic of how low the bar is set.

Shortcuts might be a theme with these shows. Soul Sister (review here) was defined by them, as the portrayal of Tina Turner was so strong there was no need to do much more than rest the entire show on those shoulders. With Backbeat (review here), again being Beatle-driven appeared to be enough. Rock Of Ages The Musical (review here) was silly, but had a good ensemble cast, so hung together, was fun and went some way to grabbing hold of the coat tails of the musical. 

This is the West End,  a showcase  to the world – with what should be world-class stages hosting  world-class shows. It’s not enough (at least for me) just to see and hear these songs being bashed out. But perhaps that’s where things are. What a disappointment. 

Then there was Christmas With The Rat Pack Live From Las Vegas (review here), which offered evidence that these things can have the magic theatre is supposed to have.

So it is possible to do it well and with panache. It'd seem that, at least some of the time, those mounting the shows can't be bothered. 

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