July 21, 2007

Jersey Boys and Other US Hits Heading to West End

July 21st, 2007

Variety.com’s Gordon Cox has an interesting article about the many American tuners that have conquered Broadway and are now heading to the West End. In the case of current Rialto musicals such as Jersey Boys, Hairspray, Grey Gardens, and Spring Awakening — all planning imminent trans-Atlantic hops — the appeal of London is easy to understand. Like Broadway, the West End is a healthy theater market fueled by seasonal influxes of tourists.

But U.S. producers can’t forget that London is another country. The weak dollar is just one aspect underscoring the fact that the rules aren’t necessarily the same on the other side of the Pond.

What does Jersey Boys Producer Michael David say about his Tony Award-winning show heading to the West End in March at the Prince Edward Theatre? David stated,

We go with no assurances of how our show will do there. We have to have appropriate recognition that the market there is not our own.

David estimates it will cost about the same to capitalize the U.K. version of Jersey Boys as it did the U.S. original — around $7.5 million.

In terms of drawing in audiences, the West End box office doesn’t get the same sizable bump from local legit awards as Broadway does from the Tonys. And an ocean away, a Tony is far less meaningful.

Additionally, Cox notes that in all cases, producers of American tuners are well aware of creative elements that might not play the same with British audiences as they do with U.S. theatergoers. Regarding this concern, Michael David noted,

We’ve had conversations about what the term ‘Jersey’ means to the English. We have a considerable amount of consciousness-raising to do before we get there.

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