What's happening to the West End?

This week saw the announcement that Harry Hill’s musical I Can’t Sing (based on ITV’s hit The X Factor) would be closing on 10th May 2014 after just two months at London’s Palladium Theatre.

The show sells itself as a musical “that goes behind the microphones and under the judges’ desks to reveal big bust-ups, huge voices and the cutest young love story the West End has ever seen”. Sounds ideal for anyone who enjoys following the show’s drama each year- especially as the show has been praised for it’s parodies of the contestants and the judges.

With heavy backing from Simon Cowell and an accessible plot line, it appeared as though the show couldn’t fail. Unfortunately, the show had problems before it could even open. As an ambitious show, there were bound to be hiccups, but during previews (which had already been postponed) audience members were sent home after waiting nearly an hour for Act 2 to begin due to electrical issues. There was also that battle of trying to fill the vast auditorium at the Palladium, and reports have come through that the theatre only being half-full is not uncommon. 

It’s always upsetting when a show closes, particularly when you take into account the vast number of jobs that are lost in an industry where it can become impossible to find work.

But sadly, the West End is becoming harder and harder to break with even theatre legends: Andrew Lloyd Webber, and Tim Rice struggling to keep shows afloat. Webber’s musical, Stephen Ward closed after 4 months on the same day that Rice’s From Here To Eternity closed after 6 months. It’s not just new shows either, after running for 12 years; We Will Rock You will be drawing its final curtain on 31st May 2014.

Many people are blaming the cost of today’s theatre tickets. Top price seats cost £87.50 for I Can’t Sing which for most families is a lot of money for a night out. As contributor Mason Cooper puts it:

“The problem with the west end is ticket prices! It costs so much, especially when you think a lot if people are traveling to see the shows so have to pay for train tickets, and eating out. For a family it can end up costing around £300. For me and my mum to see Matilda the Musical it cost me £115! For 2 tickets that's ridiculous. Lower the tickets costs as much as possible and the profits may rise over a longer period!”

Can we blame the cost of a ticket when cheaper tickets are easily accessed online and in London? Or is it the content of the shows just not hitting the mark with today's theatregoers?


What do you think? Do you agree that ticket prices are too high? Let us know in the comments!