Mark Shenton on new musicals

I’m a huge fan of theatre critic and journalist Mark Shenton, and an avid reader of his daily blog on The Stage – frankly, any musical theatre fan out there who doesn’t read what he has to say is missing out.

Even if you read his regular blog, you’ll still unlikely to read everything he writes – he’s a prolific journalist, and contributes to a host of different publications, including broadway.com, theatreVoice and the Sunday Express.

But the article that I want to draw your attention to is one that he posted last week on the Guardian’s theatre blog. Whilst Mark only posts here sporadically, it’s well worth subscribing to your RSS feeder, to avoiding missing a gem.

In his post, Desperately seeking new musicals, he opines about the problems with British theatre than mean that new work doesn’t flourish. There’s no point in me re-making the same arguement (you can see it for yourself here!), so I’ll stick to quoting him instead:

“While most leading American theatres – both off-Broadway and regionally – take new musicals seriously enough to embrace them as a key part of their annual programming policies, we don’t have a single producing theatre in the UK that does the same thing regularly here.”

When there are so many musicals already on in London theatres, I can understand why the National Theatre feels able to steer clear. Unfortunately, quantity is not the same as quality, so I still think there’s a role for the NT to play. Personally I’m not fixated on where the writers of the shows are from – I’d happily see more new musicals written by American writers – anything but more jukebox musicals would suit me just fine! 

I was trying to think of new musicals coming to London in the near future, and could only really think of 2 that have had any significant coverage – Imagine This at the New London theatre and Come Dancing at the Theatre Royal Stratford East. I’m not sure I feel massively confident about Imagine This, given that the last show to play at the New London was Gone With the Wind, one of the biggest flops in recent years.

Shenton goes on to write: 

“Instead, writers of new musicals are forced to mostly drift around the fringe, occasionally getting an outing at places like the King’s Head, Finborough or Landor. Those destinations have also dictated content: writers have to think small instead of big. There’s no nurturing of the process of writing, either, that allows them to think differently.”

Given that, I thought I’d see what those theatres have to offer in the way of new musicals at the moment… the good news is that there’s something in each of them.

If there are other new musicals that I should be aware of, please let me know. I’m also looking for press releases for shows, so if you’re producing a show and want me to cover it, do let me know.

On that note, it’s back to work. Have a good day.

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2 Responses to “Mark Shenton on new musicals”


  1. 1 down t'pit September 16, 2008 at 11:00 pm

    Although the National Theatre has had great success with revivals of classic shows, it has not fared so well with new musicals. They tried with Jean Seberg back in the 80s and it was a disaster. Bear in mind the enormous cost of developing a new musical (and the lack of writing talent around) and it’s clear why you don’t see new musicals on the main stages at the NT.

  2. 2 lesmizmusical March 31, 2010 at 1:40 pm

    Wish there were more new musicals! I do love musicals and wish I could see one every day. My favorite is Les Miz. My hobby is making short films based on some of my favorite songs from musicals.


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