A Pair Of New Assassins At The Menier

In London theatre, Musicals, News, Opinion, Reviews by Mark ShentonLeave a Comment

Sting’s The Last Ship closed on Broadway last night, after a disappointing run of just over 100 performances since it opened on October 26. At the final performance, he gave a moving curtain speech in which he said:

’Before we take our final bow, I feel it’s incumbent on me to say something. I’m not sure I’ll get through it without breaking down. I need to be a better actor, but I will try. There’s no point in pretending [this] is not incredibly emotional. I think I can speak for all of us onstage, not least because there are so many parallels between the closing of a play and the closing of a shipyard. Some of the lines that we were saying as actors are so appropriate to our lives, just as they’re appropriate to the lives of the shipyard workers fighting for their livelihood. The show recently became the 20th longest running musical in the history of the West End, and is about to move more positions up: this coming Sunday (January 25), it overtakes Grease; and then in April, it will overtake the original 1960 production of Oliver! to take 18th position. I don’t think it pays to be snobbish about shows like this — the West End should have room for all sorts of shows (yes, even Let It Be — about which I once wrote, “Let it Be? Let it Not”; but I draw the line at Rock of Ages, which I think is the anti-Christ of musicals). But I’m only saddened by the fact that it has taken one of Shaftesbury Avenue’s loveliest playhouses out of circulation for so long. If only they could move it to the Trafalgar Studios, I’d never have to go there again…. Patrick Healy Swaps Backstage Broadway For Washington DC Patrick Healy, one of the best as well as most influential of all theatre reporters in the New York thanks to his perch at the New York Times, is returning to the political beat: he previously covered the presidential race in 2008 there before swapping to Broadway. It’s just been announced he’s going to be a national political correspondent for the next presidential campaign again. That’ll obviously be easier than covering the monstrous political egos of those on Broadway! The Rick And Harvey Show Talking of a monstrous ego, producer Harvey Weinstein — who fired the entire creative team for the musical Finding Neverland after its Leicester try-out in 2012, including its original authors and director — has now seen the press agent for its Broadway transfer suddenly resign the account. According to Pat Healy’s account in the New York Times published today, strong words were exchanged in a meeting earlier in the week when Weinstein, who is used to magazines falling over themselves to cover his films, asked why few were covering his show. In particular, he wanted GQ to cover it; and as Miramontez told the New York Times, “The problem came when he demanded that they give Finding Neverland a cover. He doesn’t understand that the nation’s top men’s magazine is not going to devote a cover to his Broadway show. The reality is, at this point, they don’t even want to devote a page to it. He’s just having a tough time facing facts.” Well, this has proved to be one way of getting press coverage for the show! You can’t, as they say, buy this sort of publicity….. The Elephant Man Comes With Elephantine Prices The Elephant Man It was announced today that the current Broadway production of The Elephant Man, starring the Oscar nominee Bradley Cooper, is headed to the West End’s Theatre Royal Haymarket from May 19, for a run through August 8, along with the complete Broadway company. But it’s coming with appropriately elephantine prices to match: all seats in rows C-L of the stalls are £108, with the remainder of the stalls at £65. The central block of the upper circle is a not inconsiderable £45 — with restricted view seats on the sides at £35 and £25. Bradley Cooper and Alessandro Nivola in The Elephant Man. Photo Joan Marcus 2014 The ever-onward upward march of ticket pricing in the West End clearly no longer has a ceiling. Will audiences revolt? It’ll only change if they vote with their feet (and seats) and don’t book to see it, of course. Watch the prices then tumble as those £108 rows get marked back down to £65.

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Mark Shenton
My Theatre Mates co-founder Mark Shenton is one of the UK’s leading theatre critics and correspondents, whose regular credits include LondonTheatre, Playbill.com and The Stage, where he is contributing editor. He chairs the drama section of the Critics’ Circle, and hosts the annual Critics’ Circle Theatre Awards, held at the Prince of Wales Theatre. He blogs independently at www.shentonstage.com and tweets @ShentonStage.

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