There are an increasing number of concerts featuring musical theatre songs taking place in London and around the UK these days, and some of the most high-profile of such events are those at the Royal Albert Hall. The financial and logistical advantages of staging a concert rather than a fully produced musical are obvious, it’s much less of an investment and allows otherwise impossible line-ups of musical theatre stars to sing a variety of songs cherry picked from any of the best musicals. On the other hand, you have to recoup all of the costs including rehearsals in just one night’s tickets sales! The opportunity for theatre goers is to catch several famous names live on stage and hear a combination of favourite and less well-known numbers. You might hear something which makes you want to go and see the whole show another time, or see somebody you’d like to see a lot more of. What you won’t get of course, is any kind of plot or story arc so the emotional journey has to be carried entirely by the music and the singing performances, which were intended originally to be part of the greater whole.
Back to Broadway at the Albert Hall
On November 7th, 2012 for example there’s a concert called “Back to Broadway”. The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra provide the instrumentation while the star vocalists at this Royal Albert Hall extravaganza will include Mary Carewe, Ria Jones, Graham Bickley and Michael Dore.
The Lloyd Webber section will feature hit songs from Cats, Sunset Boulevard, The Phantom of the Opera, Evita and Aspects of Love.
Why Musical Theatre Concerts?
The above is just one event featuring songs from musical theatre, there are many others at the Albert Hall, at small theatres in the West End, and also of course the big stadium productions of musical theatre as concert such as happened for the Les Miserables Anniversary last year at the O2 amongst others.
So what is the point of musical theatre concerts? Is it just the Broadway and London musical theatre industry trying to get by in hard times with short term cash-cropping at the expense of the viability of longer term investments? Or do these one off concerts give regular and new theatre goers the opportunity to take in a wider range of stage show possibilities, like buying a sampler LP used to help vinyl LP record sales (maybe)?
One thing you may not have thought of, and that is to combine a musical theatre one-off concert with a weekend theatre break in London over two or three nights, thus getting your hotel and travel sorted out at the same time as booking in to see your favourite West End Show while booking the concert separately for the same weekend. That would be a double treat with a difference, n’est ce pas?