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

Posted on 27 October 2012 Written by

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.

Sarah Green

Sarah Green

Sarah is a musical theatre graduate now studying for her Masters in theatre practice with hopes of going onto a PHD. She has been writing for A Younger Theatre since September 2011 on all things musical theatre related.

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2 Comments For This Post

  1. Jon Bradfield Says:

    for all the discussion about the marketing of the show (and I agree, there’s good logic to the references they’re chosen), the argument in this piece and Shelton’s seems to be “but it’s a new British musicals for young people we have to like it”.

    But is it good? Or should we not care about quality in shows for younger audiences? We can accept Gordon sake of argument that it isn’t aimed at a demographic occupied by many of our theatre critics but where above are the excited quotes from people who loved it? I can only see a reference to Arts Ed students, who didn’t, but who’s opinion doesn’t count anyway because they’re not representative. Without a passionate “defence” of the show, it’s meaningless to say that people ought to have embraced it more then they have done.

    A final thought: Glee and BBT may be canny hooks but once inside the theatre I would hope for something richer and more satisfying than a tv comedy (however brilliant) because I’ve tracked across town and paid a lot for a ticket.

  2. Jon Bradfield Says:

    sorry for strange typos above – new phone weird predictive text. “accept Gordon sake of argument” is a particularly fine if surreal example…

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