The Wicked Stage: A new British show! So why aren’t we dancing for joy?

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This week was the London opening of Loserville. A brand new home-grown musical, it seemed like it could’ve been the show everyone had been waiting for. So why, instead of rave reviews and tweets about how great it is, has a Twitter storm and media furore emerged?

I was struck by some of the points raised in a recent blog by theatre critic Mark Shenton. In the blog, Shenton highlights the discrepancy in age between some of the reviewers and the show’s main characters. It seems no great surprise that a show about nerdy teenagers with a pop soundtrack isn’t appealing to reviewers who are mainly 30 and over. He does mention that BA students at ArtsEd weren’t keen on Loserville either, but I don’t think this fairly represents the younger generation’s viewpoint. I have quite a few friends who were so excited by the production when it was first announced that they went to see it at the West Yorkshire Playhouse – although this excitement did seem to have been at least partially due to the fact that a member of Busted, James Bourne, was one of the Loserville writers.

People have also been objecting to the advertising strategy, with the slogan “if you love Glee, you’ll like Loserville” seen as cashing in on other genres and successful shows. I found the comments on Shenton’s blog interesting. The first was “How can you possibly fit all of the different sit coms and series into one fantastic show? For example the big bang theory and glee are very different yet they advertise loserville in same bracket which just doesn’t make sense.” I’d argue that, in fact, this makes perfect sense – the marketing team knew their target audience of 20-somethings and teenagers who spend a lot of time watching channels such as E4, home of both The Big Bang Theory and Glee. Most of us who have been students have watched that channel for hours, so it doesn’t surprise me at all that they talked about those shows together.

I found myself getting defensive over the fact people seem upset that a show is appealing to a younger audience and marginalising the older generations, who do tend to make up the bulk of theatre-goers. This doesn’t strike me as a mistake on the show’s part but a good move in securing future generations.

I will finish with a quote Shenton cited from a blog by performer Matthew Malthouse who points out that Loserville “isn’t perfect, but it is a new fresh piece of theatre. With a young talented cast, and some of the most passionate dancing I have seen in years. I find that hard to criticise.”

Image via Loserville the Musical.

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