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Matthew Bourne: Audiences ‘shouldn’t pay the same’ for Off-West End transfers

Matthew Bourne. Photo: Hugo Glendinning

Choreographer Matthew Bourne has claimed that West End productions that start their life in smaller venues should be charging less for their tickets.

The celebrated choreographer, who co-directed Mary Poppins in 2005, said that once small-scale shows like Funny Girl transfer from venues such as the Menier Chocolate Factory, they should charge less than other West End musicals for tickets, as the production values are not as high.

He explained: “You could argue that if you’ve done something at the [Menier] Chocolate Factory and then you’re moving it to the West End, that [people] shouldn’t pay the same price for it maybe, because it’s not a big, Mary Poppins-type, millions-of-pounds production.”

Speaking at a career retrospective at Hampstead Theatre, he said the musical landscape was “healthy” because of shows that began at venues such as the Menier, including Merrily We Roll Along.

He argued that musicals had become more creative since his production of Mary Poppins, as directors and writers now “try things out” in smaller theatres before transferring them to the West End.

He said: “That scale of musical [Mary Poppins] doesn’t seem to be being created anymore.”

He continued: “The thing that’s grown in the last five or six or seven years is fringe theatre that then goes off into the West End or productions that become very successful, and people want see them.”

Bourne was speaking about his career to Luke Jennings as part of The Festival at Hampstead Theatre.