Is There Competition Between Broadway & The West End in terms of status?
Is it or was it always a bigger deal to be a star or have a hit show on Broadway than in London's West End?
I hope I'm not throwing the cat among the pigeons with this question. This is not my intention.
& yes, I'm the person who's OP'd two other Broadway related threads today.
Only among their queenier frequenters.
My sense is that they are pretty much equivalent.
Awards shows for Broadway seem to get more attention.
Typically, the hits are bigger when it's on Broadway. Phantom and Les Miz aside, a good solid run on the West End is about 2 years. On broadway, that's still a borderline flop.
The consensus used to be that Broadway had better musicals (or at least much better dancers) and the West End produced better plays. But after "End of the Rainbow", who knows?
New York is superior to London, so it stands to rreason that the theater is superior.
No, there is no competition between the two. Many Broadway shows go to the West End and vice versa. Both are top of the line.
There is no comparison. Broadway is perceived as the place that creates big splashy hits, and even though there are some very good straight plays on in Broadway, it's still known as the home of musicals, really (but doing them really really well). The West End is the home of serious theatre (straight plays) and much more respected in that sense. Musicals aren't really taken that seriously in Britain, they are regarded as being for kids and tourists. It's the straight plays that get most of the attention here. Not that there aren't a million Mountview grads who'd kill to be in a WE musical (and who'd kill their own grandmother to be in a Broadway show) but there's so much snobbery about musicals in the industry. I don't have a ton of experience with NY but I get the feeling that's not so much the case there.
So I'd say, for a musical theatre performer, definitely Broadway. For a straight actor or someone who wants to prove their acting chops, a West End play.
It all begins in the West End.
R6 is 100 percent correct.
The West End = Bergdorf Goodman
Broadway = Wal-Mart
Regional theater = Yokel-filled flea market
[quote]Broadway = Wal-Mart
Do you think that the Disneyfication of Broadway has led to this?
Broadway pays double!!! (Those British actors are poor and work for nothing!)
[quote]Musicals aren't really taken that seriously in Britain, they are regarded as being for kids and tourists.
These days, can you really argue against that?
Broadway ain't what it used to be. Every production is formulaic. Every musical theatre actor sings exactly the same way. Same inflections. That's the productions fault.
And yep, not enough individuality and masculinity. These actors are interchangeable in any part.
I'm just a ticket buying tourist. My experience has been just opposite of what I'm reading in this thread.
The musicals I've seen in London were the best I've ever seen. The plays I've seen in NYC were by far the best for me. But, as I stated, I just buy tickets and watch the activity on stage. Among "the experts" that means very little. Keep in mind, it was us ticket buyers that kept all those prancing pretty boys employed, almost until their retirement in both London and NYC.
Broadways isn't diminished with the glitzy redo of Times Square. Broadway has always been great. I also find no objections to the pastural nature of the West End. What it lacks in excitement it has always more than compensated in talent.
Sad for the world, there are only two such great entertainment locals as Broadway and the West End. They are different from one another, but I wouldn't change a thing in either of them.
West End - Equus, The Elephant Man
Broadway - Mamma Mia, Spider Man
People mount productions on Broadway to make tons of $$$. People mount productions on the West End for the cache and the recognition.Altho I must confess, the West End today is getting to look more & more like Broadway with all the damned revivals and the marquee names. They have their own version of "off Broadway and experimental theatre too. We just rarely hear about it.
Anyone interested in the facts?
American playwrights and composers aiming at Broadway (eventually) and their British counterparts aiming at the West End are at par. Yes, Broadway has tended to see the opening of more musical works of note and was the origin of musical theatre in most of its recognizable and relevant forms. The West End, drawing on a different theatre tradition, has tended to be seen as a focal point for straight plays. But the national basis of origins continues to form a large part of where things go, and there is no difference in cachet.
Money? Well, of course America will eventually outsell British houses, but we're not talking about the BO here, are we?
To answer the question, most actors would love to have a hit in BOTH places. Nothing better. Average salaries have always been lower in London.
Elaine Paige says that musical theatre stars are respected on Broadway but seen as lightweight jokes in the U.K.
Mamma Mia (which I like) , Ghost- The Musical, Dirty Dancing- The Musical, Flashdance-The Musical, Saturday Night Fever, etc.etc. all came from the West End; not to mention musical masterpieces that never made it to NYC like Time and Which Witch and La Cava and Metropolis and on and on. Broadway has plenty of turkeys, but the West End leads the race as of late with very few good works to balance it out.
Lately, The West End has turned into a giant pub bar with lots of "hen parties" keeping these movie lite shit fests running.
[quote]West End - Equus, The Elephant Man
Didn't The Elephant man originate in NY?
Andrew Lloyd Webber=England
That's all you need to know.
I always thought they were very similar - and I'm not in the industry - but I don't get the impression that there's a competition.
Clearly if one does well in one market, they will open in the other market.
I think it's a good relationship actually.
[quote]Broadway - Mamma Mia, Spider Man
Sweetie, "Mamma Mia!" originated in London. The West End is the equivalent to an out of town try out.
Ice cream during interval wins.
Sat next to a gentleman from London last week at Nice Work. It was his first Broadway show ever. Afterward he commented that there is nothing like it on West End. He said the music and singing were far superior to anything he had seen in London.
London theatre has suffered too...in terms of new plays. They (including the National Theatre) constantly revive the classics but a great new play in the West End is just as rare as it is on Broadway.
I don't agree, London puts on tons of new plays. I don't think hit new plays are any rarer now than they've ever been. True hits are always fairly rare, but London produces more hit straight plays than NY.
One Man Two Guvnors is technically a new play (albeit based on a classic) and became a huge hit - just came back from Broadway. Curious Incident is on track to become a hit and I predict it will get a WE transfer and probably some Oliviers. Enron was only three years ago. The NT do a lot of new plays, but mainly in the Cottesloe or Lyttleton. Of course the NT isn't WE but often hit plays there get WE transfers. The Royal Court is for new plays and they've birthed some stupendous stuff, like a lot of Mike Bartlett's work. A lot of Royal Court plays transfer. Jerusalem I actually disliked but it was a huge hit both here and in NY.
We are crass they are literate. It all flows from there.
r27 nails it.
Though I would add:
We are crass and getting crasser. They are literate and getting crasser. It all flows from there.
I think there are more serious plays in London.
R6 really is correct.
The West End knows how to put on a play, and we in NYC salivate for the latest snob-hit London transfer to arrive each spring. New plays like One Man, Two Guvnors, and Red or revivals like the recent Mary Stuart and Hamlet are adored by the critics and audiences alike. You think New Yorkers are flocking to crap like Elling, High, Looped or Grace?
Musicals are another story. We do question the Brit's sense of taste when they cream themselves over Dirty Dancing and Flashdance- or remember the hit atrocity, Spend, Spend, Spend? When's the last time the West End gave us a "Once" or "Grey Gardens?"
I liked Spend, Spend, Spend- it was an interesting story I didn't know with strong lead performances. Loved the young girl. Very sentimental, but it worked for me and the people around me who were choking back tears at the end like it was Carousel. It reminded me of Blood Brothers- a musical that wasn't really a musical but an oddly structured, very British play with songs. Met U.S friends after who couldn't stop trashing it. Oh, well- different strokes.
However- I totally agree that New York is producing 5 times more interesting musicals that the Brits in both number and quality.
Occasionally we have a good, American hit play in New York, like August: Osage County or Other Desert Cities, but these are few and far between. Also, while both of those examples were wildly entertaining and well-acted they weren't exactly "high art."
We are good at the potboiler, kitchen sink type drama and that's about it.
New York was the place to be in the 1920s or the 1950s. All the rest of the time, London has been superior.
[quote]New York was the place to be in the 1920s or the 1950s. All the rest of the time, London has been superior.
New York owned the 70s.
Do you know nothing?
[quote]Do you know nothing?
...and the theatrical cuntiness comes out!
[quote]Musicals aren't really taken that seriously in Britain, they are regarded as being for kids and tourists.
Yet so many of Broadway's biggest musical hits in the last few decades originated in London.
[quote] When's the last time the West End gave us a "Once" or "Grey Gardens?"
Why did Once originate in New York? The librettist is Irish and the film was a big hit in the UK as well. Was there just no interest from London producers?
[quote] Sat next to a gentleman from London last week at Nice Work. It was his first Broadway show ever. Afterward he commented that there is nothing like it on West End. He said the music and singing were far superior to anything he had seen in London.
Considering a revival of Crazy for You closed early this year in London, the gentleman mustn't see much theatre.
The London 'Singin in the Rain' is fabulous.
I am curious whether West End star Sheridan Smith is well known in the States?
Like British and Amercian entertainment in general, British musicals are a bit naff, shiny floor, panto-derived, and quite literate but unpolished, and American ones are overly glitzy, fake sincere, and a little too pleased with themselves. And both have that awful derivativeness now; the British pop music and American TV and movie industries have ruined musical theatre.
I assume Once started in New York because NYTW was willing to take a chance on it and provide a bit of the financing. It was the perfect environment to develop the show, and after the raves the next step was to bring it to Broadway rather than Ireland/The West End.
[quote]Many Broadway shows go to the West End and vice versa. Both are top of the line.
"Spider-Man" and "Mamma Mia!" are top drawer--[italic]really[/italic] top drawer!
[quote]New York owned the 70s. Do you know nothing?
Clearly [italic]you[/italic] don't. [italic]I[/italic] owned the Seventies.
Ms Upson, when can we expect a Mame revival, London OR Broadway?
What would people say are the best original British musicals? Who are the Sondheims, Kander & Ebbs and Loessers?
Even though New York is overproduced, we still crank out Caroline, Or Change, Light in the Piazza, Grey Gardens, Passing Strange, etc. What are the equivalents in the West End (if there are any)? They certainly aren't transferring over here if they do exist.
I think what the Brit at Nice Work was saying is they don't have a bunch of Kelli O'Hara/Melissa Errico/Christine Andreas types performing or valued regularly.
I dont buy the musicals for Broadway plays for West End bullshit. Broadway is the height of theatre in the world. Like someone else said, London basically amounts to an out-of-town tryout. It's obviously number two in the world and has a great deal of talent, but don't kid yourself that the plays are better. They use just as many celebrities (often from the US), and pander to audiences just as often.
Obviously the plays on Broadway are overshadowed by the behemoth musicals, but it's insulting to all of the great theatre actors and playwrights that are working in NYC to say that Broadway is just about musicals and all the great theatre happens in London.
There have been many times over the past decade that a single (one) play has been playing on Broadway. Far from the case in the West End.
The institutional theatre in London (The National, RSC, Royal Court, etc.) in general STILL seem to be doing more varied and interesting work than the Roundabout, Manhattan Theatre Club, or National Theatre east (Lincoln Center). Yes, they do revivals, but there are fewer "Bye Bye Birdie" and "The Women" productions in those theaters.
Both places are becoming more tourist and (movie-TV) star driven with longer runs and less adventurous producers, but saying that plays are stronger in London and musicals are stronger in NYC still seems a fair statement- for now.
But it is okay to put down the whole of the UK theatre industry, r46?
No one outside of NY thinks of Broadway as the home of serious theatre or really associates it with serious theatre. The UK is world-renowned as the home of classical theatre. Ever heard of a little thing called the Royal Shakespeare Company? More new plays have gone from the West End to Broadway (and been hits on both) than vice versa.
It's all just mutual snobbery, isn't it? New Yorkers like to think they're the centre of the earth, and put down London as some kind of B-list provincial also-ran. The industry in London like to think we're the Home of Classical Theatre and all very cultured, and put down Broadway as just splashy and superficial. It's just the usual rivalry. Truth is both cities produce some world-class theatre, but each has one area they excel in, and personally I think that's great. I never see musicals in London (the only good musical I've seen here was Matilda, which isn't really a traditional musical) and I think a lot of them are crap (thank fuck Viva Forever hasn't opened yet) but I have seen some fantastic musicals in New York, and yes the odd really good straight play there too.
Honestly, I don't think so many people outside of Broadway really care that much about Broadway, ditto the West End. But in general I do think the perception of the general public is Broadway = musicals, big spectacles, celeb performances Britain = straight theatre/classical stage/Shakespeare, where actors go to prove they're real actors.
Having said that, admittedly I am biased, but I do find the idea of NY having a better reputation for straight theatre pretty laughable. I've lived more or less equally between the two cities for the past six years, and I'm struggling to think of many straight plays in NY that were either huge hits, or really fantastic. Besides London just has such a massive amount of straight plays, both classical and new, and of huge theatres that primarily do straight plays. The National's three, Globe, Old Vic, Young Vic, Royal Court, Donmar, and the RSC's London base (not counting the 2-3 theatres the RSC has in SuA). Plus there are a ton of 'b list' theatres that are also very successful, and that's not including the Fringe which numbers hundreds of theatres and occasionally throws up a hit. I have friends who go to the theatre just for straight plays 4-5 times a week, and never have any problem finding enough plays to see. I can't imagine being able to do that in NY.
musicals are junk
Doesn't theatre in London AND New York rely more on regional theatres/non-profits producing decent work that is then further developed or transferred?
Things like the DruidMurphy Lincoln Center run and transfers of plays from [...] Theatre in Dublin contribute to NY and London theatre. And as far as musicals are concerned, Chichester has been sending more musicals to London, and it would seem that the Curve in Leicester is attempting to become a place for testing out works.
One thing the US has that the UK doesn't is a great number of programs to develop new writing for musical theatre. So few exist in the UK, and the temptation is great to just give in and churn out another jukebox musical. The West End hen party theatre trips is something that doesn't seem to have spread to Broadway.
They serve ice cream during the intervals at West End shows.
You pay for your playbills in London.
Bottom line is that it's far more prestigious to win a Tony than it is to win an Olivier. It's the same as the comparison between an Oscar and a BAFTA.
Jeez NY queens sure get defensive when anyone questions musicals. I love Broadway musicals as much as the next gay, but "NY is better/more successful/better regarded than London, because I say so" isn't really the most compelling argument.
r51 does make a good point, about there being no real development for musical writing in the UK. Again I would blame that on how poorly musicals are regarded here - though I guess it's a bit of a catch 22. It's silly really when you consider how much money and effort the UK puts into developing straight theatre, and how profitable the musicals section of the WE is - but then I guess we do have all those musical theatre reality shows.
Btw, does America have those TV shows, and if so how are they regarded?
The thing about the Tony awards, r54, is that so often it is British productions garnering the nominations and awards, at least when it comes to plays and not musicals. Since 2000, American productions have won five Best Play Tonys, and British productions have won eight. The National Theatre alone won half of those. Same for Best Actor in a Play, a lot of British names on that list.
Clearly something is not going brilliantly with NY non-musical theatre if British productions are taking such a disproportionate amount of NY awards. And it's not because the plays that are put on in NY are bad, it's just that there's such a tiny number of them compared to London. So I don't think NY can ever be considered more successful or bigger or better than London when it comes to plays.
[quote]They serve ice cream during the intervals at West End shows.
I seem to remember them serving tea during the intervals of matinees. You'd pay in advance and a tray would be waiting for you in the bar area. Wonder of they still do that.
Also, going to the bar for a drink in the intervals in the evenings, doesn't that happen in NY?
[quote] The thing about the Tony awards, [R54], is that so often it is British productions garnering the nominations and awards, at least when it comes to plays and not musicals.
But I think you're missing my bigger point. If a play wins the Olivier award for Best Play and then goes to Broadway and wins the Tony, you can bet that the promotional efforts for the show will say "Tony Award Winner, Best Play" over "Olivier Award Winner, Best Play."
Whatever its origins (West End or Broadway), the American awards are predominant. That's not some jingoistic proclamation; it's just the way it is.
[quote]If a play wins the Olivier award for Best Play and then goes to Broadway and wins the Tony, you can bet that the promotional efforts for the show will say "Tony Award Winner, Best Play" over "Olivier Award Winner, Best Play."
Yes... IN THE UNITED STATES.
And in the UK, it will say "Olivier Award Winner, Best Play" over "Tony Award Winner, best Play."
Yes, but WORLD-WIDE the Tonys win hands down. Just like the Oscars do.
Meaningful plays with artistic merit is what is important.
Los Angeles is the only serious theatre town.
So what, though? America in general has huge 'brand recognition' worldwide, so for the most part anything American has greater worldwide name recognition than the equivalent from any other country. Look how often other countries
slap something vaguely American on products to help it sell. That says all kinds of things about America's place in the world, but how on earth does it say anything about NY's straight theatre scene and whether it's "better" than London's?
Really, you are reaching quite a bit here. NY produces a relatively very small amount of straight plays, few of which become hits, and they lose their own theatre awards to British productions. Britain on the other hand produces an insane amount of straight theatre, produces many hits, and is world-renowned as the home of classical theatre.
But none of that matters because the "bottom line" is that an awards ceremony few people outside the US (probably few people outside NY/the theatre industry, really) know or care about at all, happens to be a better known name abroad than a British acting awards? By that standard I guess 'Friends' is the best TV show the world has ever produced, and McDonalds the best food.
Btw, forgive the little diversion but while we're on the subject of interval refreshments, you must try the ginger tiffin at the National if you're ever there. Which sounds so queeny (in both senses of the word) but it is fab.
Exactly R47. Compare what the National and RSC put on compared to the crap Roundabout shovels on stage the past few years. Hedda Gabler, Man and Boy, Philanthropist, Mrs. Warren's Profession, Road to Mecca, The Language Archive, People in the Picture- the list goes on and on and it reads like a theatergoer's worst nightmare.
There are indeed several instances when only one play was running on Broadway.
So R46, if the plays really are as good on Broadway, which new non-British transfers are you talking about? Bengal Tiger? Don't make me laugh. That was a piece of shit.
Playwright Edward Albee: Broadway is 'usually junk'
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