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How to… bring an American musical to the British stage

Mitchell Reeve. Photo: Ricky McFadden
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1. Get the word out early

Bringing an American musical to the British stage is a lot harder if it’s not very well known here. Hamilton, for example, had no problem selling out. Who hasn’t heard of Hamilton? Our show Pete ’n’ Keely was an Off-Broadway success, winning an Outer Critics Circle award and two Drama Desk nominations. We are making sure to capitalise on this in our marketing. You need to spend time looking into your target demographic and work out how to reach them, because getting the word out about your show in advance is key.

2. Pick the right director

Having someone you trust and believe will do a great job is vital when working on any musical. But when bringing a show across the Atlantic, you really need to understand how your director works and what they can bring to the project. The director needs to fall in love with the show, or how else can you expect your audience to? From discussions with Matthew Gould, we could tell he really understood the glitz and glamour of the 1960s, so when it came to directing Pete ’n’ Keely, we knew he was the right choice.

3. Don’t rush

No matter how keen you are to share the show with a British audience, you need to work out if now is the right time for the musical to come to the UK. Sometimes, it might be better to wait six months to secure a more attractive venue for the musical – somewhere more likely to have an audience interested in your show. If something’s not working, take a step back and reassess. Not everything has to happen straight away.

Mitchell Reeve is the co-writer and producer of Pete ’n’ Keely, which runs at Tristan Bates Theatre, London until May 20. He was talking to John Byrne

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