Spring Awakening has sadly posted its closing notices at the Novello Theatre, a whole five months ahead of schedule. Duncan Sheik and Steven Sater’s unique musical based on Frank Wedekind’s 1890 play caused a sensation on Broadway and again during its limited run at the Lyric Hammersmith earlier this year. However, audiences dwindled dramatically when Spring Awakening transferred to the West End in March.
This is by no means a reflection on the show itself. Fresh and innovative, Spring Awakening garnered ecstatic reviews when it made its UK debut at the Lyric Hammersmith. When talks began of a West End transfer, it bagan to look like the show would repeat the success it enjoyed on Broadway, where it won numerous Tony and Drama Desk awards. However, barely a week passed between the transfer’s public confirmation and performances beginning at the Novello Theatre so, inevitably, the show failed to pack the house.
While the big and bold new musical Priscilla Queen of the Desert boosted its originally low ticket sales with well timed TV appearances, Spring Awakening seemed happy to let its glittering reviews speak for themselves. However, while times in the West End have improved after a shaky 2008, it would appear that the still British public need more motivation to see a new show than press reviews, however celebratory. Other conventional new musicals Sister Act Musical and Legally Blonde look set to follow Priscilla’s example with their family friendly, televisable sequences, and it looks that unconventional shows will make moves to the West End for the time being, however successful they have been in other areas. A transfer of the Leicester Curves successful production of The Light in the Piazza now looks tentative, as for now, people still prefer spend their cash on the more reliable, big, bright spectaculars for which the West End can always be depended on.
Published: 08/06/2009 12:15:22