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Chicago producer: ‘London needs to do better at musicals’

Chicago runs at London's Phoenix Theatre from March 26, 2018 Chicago runs at London's Phoenix Theatre from March 26, 2018
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Tony award-winning producer Barry Weissler has said the UK should “do better” at musical theatre.

Weissler, whose productions include the forthcoming London revival of Chicago and Pippin on Broadway, argued that Britain “cannot do musicals like the US”, because British children do not grow up with the tradition in the same way.

The producer was speaking at the launch of the new London production of Chicago, which has just extended its booking period by three months until October 6.

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“As far as Chicago is concerned, I don’t think if we hadn’t started in New York city it would be as good here. Because of the craft, training, what’s in our DNA, we grew up on this stuff,” he told The Stage.

He added: “We should do better at play acting, and you should do better at musical theatre.”

Weissler argued that musicals are “endemic to the USA’s cultural creativity”.

He said: “Musicals as we know them began in America. We’re very good at it, our young boys and girls take dance class and musical classes and they’re very loose when it comes to musical theatre.

“Here, you’re so beautifully trained in a discipline that we can’t touch, which is drama, classics, straight play acting, you’re so good at that. We can’t do it as well as you do, like you can’t do our musicals the same, because we haven’t grown up with it.”

Weissler argued that the discipline of acting for plays is taught to a higher standard in the UK than in the States.

He added: “You think of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, I don’t know if we could do it as well.”

Earlier this week, Andrew Lloyd Webber criticised the quality of West End musicals compared with those on Broadway.

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