We hear all the time how West End shows are transferring to Broadway and vice versa due to their popularity with the original audience, and it is assumed that when crossing the pond, they will be just as popular.
An example of when the two musical capitals of the world were poles apart is the Broadway version of Shrek The Musical. It opened in December 2008 to mixed reviews but closed in January 2010 after just over a year, because the show wasn’t financially viable – basically wasn’t selling enough tickets, (and it was the most expensive Broadway production of all time costing an estimated $25million!)
However, over in the West End it is now one of the most popular family shows which has had continuing success here since May 2011 and is taking bookings until March 2013. What British critics called a “well-crafted show”, the Americans described as a “pretty bare-bones fairytale”. Oops, didn’t seem like we saw eye to eye on that one!
There is always some risk involved when trying a musical out in a new place, with a new audience. Humour differs, casts differ and how cultures interpret stories can also affect how a show is judged. Seeing the same show on Broadway and in the West End can be a completely different experience.
Other times it does just work out! One Man Two Guvnors, a very British play, originally opened in the West End, has had huge Broadway success, with James Corden surprising everyone and winning the Tony award for Best Actor and has become one of the most popular plays on Broadway at the moment.
Most recently, Matilda The Musical has been announced as the next West End musical to take the trip over to Broadway next year. It has had extreme success after winning 10 Olivier Awards, and is popular with both children and adults, so is set for success in New York.
You can never tell how audiences will react to a particular show, what works in one place might not in another but equally it can be even more successful!
Tell us of your experiences watching Broadway and West End shows. Can they ever be the same? Have you seen the same show in both the West End and Broadway?