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Hurray For Hollywood? Use Of Film Stars In The West End


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#1 gmpuva

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Posted 24 June 2007 - 10:43 AM

I am pursuing an MA in Arts Management at City University. My thesis topic is "Hurray for Hollywood? An Inquiry into the Impact of American Film Stars in the West End."

I am assessing the validity of recent arguments made by Peter Hall and Alan Ayckbourn that this trend is devaluing the West End. My approach is to examine five specific productions that starred Hollywood celebrities. These are: Christian Slater - "One Flew Over..", Val Kilmer - "Postman Always Rings Twice," Holly Hunter - "By the Bog of Cats," Woody Harrelson - "Night of the Iguana" and Juliette Lewis - "Fool for Love."

I am wondering if anyone saw any of these productions and could provide feedback?  Also, would be interested to learn theatregoers overall thoughts on this trend.

Many thanks!
Gretchen

#2 Orchestrator

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Posted 24 June 2007 - 03:21 PM

QUOTE(gmpuva @ Jun 24 2007, 11:43 AM) View Post
I am pursuing an MA in Arts Management at City University. My thesis topic is "Hurray for Hollywood? An Inquiry into the Impact of American Film Stars in the West End."

I am assessing the validity of recent arguments made by Peter Hall and Alan Ayckbourn that this trend is devaluing the West End. My approach is to examine five specific productions that starred Hollywood celebrities. These are: Christian Slater - "One Flew Over..", Val Kilmer - "Postman Always Rings Twice," Holly Hunter - "By the Bog of Cats," Woody Harrelson - "Night of the Iguana" and Juliette Lewis - "Fool for Love."

I am wondering if anyone saw any of these productions and could provide feedback?  Also, would be interested to learn theatregoers overall thoughts on this trend.

Many thanks!
Gretchen

Perhaps you should mention the other, relatively recent, examples; Madonna in whatever it was and Nicole Kidman in the Blue Room leap to mind, also I suppose Daniel Radcliffe and Dougray Scott are Hollywood celebrities in terms of what you are exploring. I don't know how necessary actually seeing the productions is, for your thesis; to judge the impact you probably need to get into the heads of people like Sonia Friedman and Bill Kenwright, Peter Hall and John Caird to see how much it has changed their views on casting and repertoire.

I saw the Blue Room and thought Kidman was very good, although I didn't particularly like the style of the production. There was no real sense (in a bad way) of an imbalance between her and Iain Glen. Presumably it would have sold out a much larger theatre, eg the Novello, for months and months, had the cast wanted to do that.

If your title references the 1937 Johnny Mercer and Richard Whiting song perhaps you should use the original spelling: Hooray for Hollywood.
Ooh, that Bernadette Shaw - what a chatterbox!

#3 QuincyMD

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Posted 26 June 2007 - 11:25 AM

I saw Salter in "OFOTCN" and to be honest I'd still have gone to see it if it starred Martin from Eastenders.
Which way did he go McGill?

#4 Bad Idea Bear

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Posted 26 June 2007 - 12:10 PM

We put these 'film stars' on such pedestals don't we?  At the end of the day these 'stars' are only human and the majority of them may well have started in theatre - it's only because they've appeared in numerous films that they become household names - and this doesn't necessarily mean that they are great actors.  On saying that I have seen 4 of the 5 productions you mention (I didn't see 'Fool for love') and the only one where a number of the audience appeared starstruck was when Christian Slater appeared onstage (lots of female gaspings of breath!).  I particularly liked Val Kilmer in 'Postman..' - he seemed to have been well cast but I don't think I'd have enjoyed this play (or any of the others) any more or less if someone else had appeared in it.  I guess it makes ticket selling easier for the theatre if a known 'name' is in it.


#5 Haz

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Posted 26 June 2007 - 01:35 PM

Have you considered including Equus?? Surely has to be the biggest furore around any opening (as a result of a star) in recent years.

My initial thoughts are always 'great - anything that gets more people going to the theatre is always good'. More often than not, these 'stars' give damned good performances and are 'worthy' of being in the West End.. despite the number of people who seem predisposed to dislike them purely because of their celebrity.

But it does raise concerns for me about what it does to plays that don't have the budget for star casting. The higher a star's profile, the more people will pay for tickets.. the more people pay for tickets, the more the production company makes.. the more the production company makes, the more the theatres get away with charging them for their venue.. the more theatres charge for their venue, the harder it is for smaller companies to have ANY chance of getting to the west end.

What was the last play to REALLY succeed without a huge star name? The History Boys probably.. (yes, I know it had Richard Griffiths, but he doesn't have the same level of fame as Madonna, Nicole Kidman etc) But even with THB, I do wonder if it would have done as well if it hadn't started at a subsidised theatre like The National.

I suppose your argument hinges on what 'value' is with regards to the West End.. if you mean purely commercial value, in terms of how much money is made, then easy peasy.. the number of star castings is rising, and the number of visitors to the West End is also rising. It should be fairly easy to prove at least SOME link between the two. BUT, if you're talking about cultural/intellectual value then it's a much tougher argument, and one you won't ever come to a universal conclusion on. Or if you're talking about value for money, then surely that's just a call to be made by each individual and how much they like their favourite celeb.
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#6 stargate

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Posted 08 July 2007 - 05:34 PM

People who don't normally go to the West End will be attracted to Hollywood names.

Edited by stargate, 14 October 2007 - 01:33 PM.





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