The bulletin boards, blogs and twitter are full of it, of course; an endless stream of theatrical gossip, rumour and/or anecdote. But we can’t seem to get enough of it. I typically only report two things on my Twitter stream: either confirmed news or my own opinions.
But occasionally I link to the opinions of others, too, and sometimes – especially on Fridays, when Baz Bamigboye publishes his weekly column in the Daily Mail, or Michael Riedel has one of his twice-weekly columns in the New York Post – some future speculations.
Sometimes these are pretty early in the process: a column that is placed by way of a kind of advance wish-fulfillment. So, for instance, last Friday Riedel reported on the current London production of Titanic at Southwark Playhouse that “there’s already talk of a West End transfer”.
Talk, yes – there always is for anything on the fringe that gets good reviews. (And it was gratifying to spot, leading the reviews that Riedel cites for this show, one of my own tweet reviews! By the same token, I saw something hilarious on Facebook the other day: a posting for a fringe show that I’d just seen with the photograph of the director, artistic director and a celebrity guest huddled around a mobile phone that was captioned, “Mark Shenton’s tweets come in….”).
But I wonder how many hundreds of thousands it would cost to achieve a transfer – with a cast of 20, plus six musicians, it’s not going to come cheap. But talking it up via Riedel could get an American investor or two on board – and it’s probably only small change for an American bigwig to invest in a cheap production like this that could see the show eventually returned to Broadway, as witness the Menier treatments for Sunday in the Park with George, A Little Night Music and La Cage Aux Folles. Riedel ends his column by stating: “Surely this new production is something the Roundabout Theatre Company should have in its sights.” (The Roundabout hosted the Broadway transfer for Sunday in the Park).
So I’m sure it is not beyond the realms of possibility. Meanwhile, another transfer is officially off the cards. Though the partnership of Chichester Festival Theatre, who annually produce a slew of West End bound hits, and Cameron Mackintosh was expected to yield an instant transfer with the current production of Barnum, the cast were told the weekend before last that it wouldn’t be moving.
When I asked Cameron Mackintosh’s in-house PR if a formal statement was going to be made, I was told, “Nothing to announce as it wasn’t ever announced to do so.” Yet it was widely known that the Gielgud had been talked of as a possible West End home. But the reviews and buzz from Chichester – where tickets are still available for the remaining performances – has simply not been sufficiently good to warrant a move. And as a 33-year-old Broadway musical chiefly remembered as a vehicle for Michael Crawford in the West End, neither its title nor its imported Broadway star Christopher Fitzgerald is big enough to sell on its own merits.