It’s confession time again. I have to confess to being deeply angry, jealous, frustrated and sorry for myself when I was told that a particular review show (one of many hundreds that appear on our stages all the time) had sold out and audiences had loved it and wanted more. I don’t understand.
I actually don’t really get review shows or tributes at all. here’s the deal. Off you go to watch and listen to other, not famous, people singing other famous people’s songs. Now, it stands to reason that the person or people covering that song will never be able to do it as well as the original, and, while I’m not being a snob or a purist, why not buy the CD or even watch it on youtube?
There is no shortage of review shows. And they obviously get big audiences. There are some performers here in Cape Town who do nothing else. And people are delighted to buy tickets for these shows. My theory is that audiences feel safe going to see something that they ‘know’. They know the words and music to the most popular songs of the eighties (oh, how many times can Sweet Dreams or It’s Raining Men be shoved onto stage?), the greatest hits of Neil Diamond, Queen (the favourite, commonest and most supported choice of all tribute shows), Elvis, or even ‘mix ‘n match with a weak little theme to string them together (greatest rock ballads, best boyband songs, disco fever).
I guess it’s the same with musicals, which get churned out over and over again. Fiddler on the (same old) Roof, Cats, Phantom, My Fair Lady. what sells them is the fact that people know the story and recognise the music. Try staging a new, local, original musical and see how hard it is to get an audience; even with the greatest crits and big publicity.
And even that isn’t half as bad as trying to put on a brand new play that isn’t comedy and doesn’t have songs. Talk about pissing in the wind.
You know what’s going to happen here? I’m going to tag all those musicals and artists and this post will get a thousand hits, with people looking for those shows!