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Repeat Viewings


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#1 wickedgrin

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Posted 26 February 2007 - 12:11 AM

I am an avid theatre goer but I am always amazed at the number of times people go to the same show again and again. Les Mis, Wicked and Blood Brothers spring to mind. I enjoy theatre but I find there is plenty of NEW shows in the WE to see to more than fill my available time and budget. Theatre going is expensive (although there are many deals and offers available which I take full advantage of) and although I have enjoyed many shows very much I have very rarely returned to see them twice as it is simply too expensive and there is always something new opening. I know some people get addicted to a show and love to compare different perfomances etc. and everyone has a right to spend their money as they wish but surely while they are seeing Wicked for the 6th or 10th time they could be experiencing something fresh. You can always buy the CD for repeat hearings!!! Try a play ? Try something NEW!!!

#2 David

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Posted 26 February 2007 - 12:18 AM

I agree with you whole-heartedly. Apart from shows that I've worked on, I've never seen the same show twice, but I've often said that if I lived nearer to Stratford I would probably see the shows that I liked a few times, with their 16-25 year old ticket offers (although never a play I'd seen before over one I hadn't).

People who (at the very extreme end) have seen shows like Phantom (literally) hundreds and hundreds of times worry me slightly- why do they have so much money? why do they want to see it so many times? why don't they want to see anything else? and how many nights must they go to see it- there must be people who see the same show every couple of weeks! I'm referring to the documentary that was on over Christmas about Phantom- I probably won't ever listen to the soundtrack anywhere near as many times as they've seen it live!

Sorry, I havn't answered your wondering at all- just padded it out a bit!

#3 xTanyax

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Posted 26 February 2007 - 12:46 AM

I just think I enjoyed it so why not I mean how many times do you watch the same film, when it gets into the hundreds it is pretty stupid and I have no idea where people get money from but seeing something a few times I see no problem with my most extreme is Guys and Dolls which i've seen 14 times which is very unusual for me but I liked to compare the casts and I enjoyes the show.

#4 Blue

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Posted 26 February 2007 - 08:39 AM

I have a number of favourite shows that I like to visit at least ten times a year. I keep going back becasuse the shows still have an impact on me. If I wasn't being entertained and getting my money's worth then I would not bother. It's also fun to follow a show and to see the cast and staging changes. I also try and see everything new that comes out in the West End (but I am a little more picky with plays). In fact, I tend to get hooked on a show and see it a few times in rapid succession before moving onto something else.]





#5 JR1

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Posted 26 February 2007 - 09:00 AM

The problem with living in London is that anyone who comes to stay for the first time wants to see a show, and the first one they want to see is Les Mis.  I've seen it so many times that I just snooze through it.

#6 Matthew Winn

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Posted 26 February 2007 - 10:07 AM

There are some shows I go to see regularly, and it's for three reasons.

Firstly, it's because if I really love a production I want to commit it to memory. I believe very strongly that a show is just ink on paper until people bring it to life, and it's the people in a show who make the difference. I could give several examples of shows that are on the list of the best things I've ever seen and also the worst things I've ever seen, the only difference being the people involved. (Mostly the cast and the director, but everyone plays their part and can affect the outcome.)

The result of that is that when I love a show I know I'm only a cast change away from possibly hating it. I'll use Avenue Q as an example, as it's a current favourite of mine. At the moment it's one of the best shows I've ever seen in the West End, but it will only last until the cast change this summer. Then it'll change. It may be that I like the show with the new cast as much as I like the current cast, but on the basis of past experience I know that's unlikely. I might even hate the show after the change.

Suppose I do hate the new cast, but ten years from now I win the lottery and decide to recreate the Avenue Q I loved. I make all the cast offers they wouldn't want to refuse and reassemble the entire production. But that won't work. Everyone involved would be a decade older and a decade more experienced. They'd make different artistic decisions. With the best will in the world, nobody will be able to turn the clock back and create the Avenue Q I know today.

And that's the first reason I make repeat visits to shows. I know that nothing lasts forever in the theatre, and once something is over it's over. I have no choice but to let it go; I see it when I can so I don't look back and think "Damn, I wish I'd seen it more often while I had the chance". (I wouldn't have it any other way. I think it's sad when people can't face losing a show. Theatre is about change: see the shows you love while you can and then move on.)

Secondly, I see shows multiple times in order to catch things I missed the first time around. It's a poor show indeed that's so shallow that the audience can see everything it has to offer in a single sitting. Truly great shows have a depth and complexity that rewards multiple viewings, and I would go so far as to say that if a show gives up everything it has in one viewing then it's probably not worth watching at all. (How many times can you listen to a piece of music and still notice aspects of the work that you'd missed before? For me the answer is "dozens".) In addition, seeing understudies often gives me a completely different view of a work, resulting in greater understanding.

Note that I don't mean it should be necessary to see a show multiple times in order to understand it. A show that can't communicate all it needs to communicate the first time you see it is rubbish, and that's all there is to it. But a great show should be able to communicate even more – much more – when seen several times. Nobody would claim it was strange to listen to music by Beethoven in order to derive the maximum amount of pleasure from it, so why should it be different with music by Rodgers?

So the second reason I see shows multiple times is to get as much out of them as the creators put into them. Seeing a show once means leaving it half watched.

Finally, when there's someone I know in a show (even if I don't know them well) I'll go along to show my support and encouragement. This isn't always a pleasure: a few years ago I sat through one of the worst productions I've seen in my entire life three times for the benefit of one of the leads who had been rather distraught at the (justifiably) appalling reviews she'd received, and over the last couple of years I was going to see a West End show much more than I wanted to in order to support one of the cast. (To be fair, it's not all bad. Sometimes it happens that going to see a show to support one of the cast will introduce me to an excellent show I'd otherwise never have tried, so it all balances out in the end.)

So those are the three reasons.

One of the odd characteristics I've observed over the years is the strange way in which those working at the theatres (both on stage and off) respond to regular visitors. Most people go to the theatre no more than once or twice a year, and if you go more often than that then those who recognise you assume that if you go to see the same show (say) once a month then that must be the only show you go to see. I've lost count of the number of misunderstandings I've had when people have jumped to this incorrect conclusion. They see me back again after a month and it never occurs to them that I might have been half way across the country seeing something else only 72 hours earlier, that my next theatre trip is the day after tomorrow, and that I've been to see ten other shows since the last time they saw me. "Oh, we thought it was just us you came to see" is one of the most common things people say to me when they find out their assumptions are wrong.

You can see that attitude right here in this thread. "See something new", they say. I do see something new. I also see something familiar. The two aren't mutually exclusive.
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#7 electric1

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Posted 26 February 2007 - 10:14 AM

The two shows I have seen the most are Les Mis 23 times and Whistle Down the Wind 22.  I am a teacher and have had students  and friends in both shows.  With Whistle I had 6 students over the couple of years it was at the Aldwych so I organised trips for first nights, last nights, school trips etc.  I never got bored watching Les Mis but I could have done without seeing Whistle that many times!

I have also seen Wicked 4 times just because I love the show and Billy Elliot 7 times mostly because I love the show but I do have the excuse of knowing cast members as well.

#8 Backdrifter

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Posted 26 February 2007 - 01:50 PM

Excellent response from Matthew, I can't add much more to that. There's only a handful of shows I've seen more than once, for some of the same reasons as Matthew, and never more than 3 times. I really do feel like I'm seeing something different each time, partly helped by different audience reactions. Another reason I've revisited shows before is that I tend to see more productions than my partner and will sometimes come away knowing that she'd love it, and have rebooked for both of us. Experiencing it again but with her, and sharing our impressions of it (and enjoying her first-time reactions) add to my overall appreciation of it.

I'd also add that I rarely do this with pricey West End shows.
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#9 M George

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Posted 26 February 2007 - 03:22 PM

QUOTE(Matthew Winn @ Feb 26 2007, 10:07 AM) View Post
There are some shows I go to see regularly, and it's for three reasons.

Firstly, it's because if I really love a production I want to commit it to memory. I believe very strongly that a show is just ink on paper until people bring it to life, and it's the people in a show who make the difference. I could give several examples of shows that are on the list of the best things I've ever seen and also the worst things I've ever seen, the only difference being the people involved. (Mostly the cast and the director, but everyone plays their part and can affect the outcome.)

The result of that is that when I love a show I know I'm only a cast change away from possibly hating it. I'll use Avenue Q as an example, as it's a current favourite of mine. At the moment it's one of the best shows I've ever seen in the West End, but it will only last until the cast change this summer. Then it'll change. It may be that I like the show with the new cast as much as I like the current cast, but on the basis of past experience I know that's unlikely. I might even hate the show after the change.

Suppose I do hate the new cast, but ten years from now I win the lottery and decide to recreate the Avenue Q I loved. I make all the cast offers they wouldn't want to refuse and reassemble the entire production. But that won't work. Everyone involved would be a decade older and a decade more experienced. They'd make different artistic decisions. With the best will in the world, nobody will be able to turn the clock back and create the Avenue Q I know today.

And that's the first reason I make repeat visits to shows. I know that nothing lasts forever in the theatre, and once something is over it's over. I have no choice but to let it go; I see it when I can so I don't look back and think "Damn, I wish I'd seen it more often while I had the chance". (I wouldn't have it any other way. I think it's sad when people can't face losing a show. Theatre is about change: see the shows you love while you can and then move on.)

Secondly, I see shows multiple times in order to catch things I missed the first time around. It's a poor show indeed that's so shallow that the audience can see everything it has to offer in a single sitting. Truly great shows have a depth and complexity that rewards multiple viewings, and I would go so far as to say that if a show gives up everything it has in one viewing then it's probably not worth watching at all. (How many times can you listen to a piece of music and still notice aspects of the work that you'd missed before? For me the answer is "dozens".) In addition, seeing understudies often gives me a completely different view of a work, resulting in greater understanding.

Note that I don't mean it should be necessary to see a show multiple times in order to understand it. A show that can't communicate all it needs to communicate the first time you see it is rubbish, and that's all there is to it. But a great show should be able to communicate even more much more when seen several times. Nobody would claim it was strange to listen to music by Beethoven in order to derive the maximum amount of pleasure from it, so why should it be different with music by Rodgers?

So the second reason I see shows multiple times is to get as much out of them as the creators put into them. Seeing a show once means leaving it half watched.

Finally, when there's someone I know in a show (even if I don't know them well) I'll go along to show my support and encouragement. This isn't always a pleasure: a few years ago I sat through one of the worst productions I've seen in my entire life three times for the benefit of one of the leads who had been rather distraught at the (justifiably) appalling reviews she'd received, and over the last couple of years I was going to see a West End show much more than I wanted to in order to support one of the cast. (To be fair, it's not all bad. Sometimes it happens that going to see a show to support one of the cast will introduce me to an excellent show I'd otherwise never have tried, so it all balances out in the end.)

So those are the three reasons.

One of the odd characteristics I've observed over the years is the strange way in which those working at the theatres (both on stage and off) respond to regular visitors. Most people go to the theatre no more than once or twice a year, and if you go more often than that then those who recognise you assume that if you go to see the same show (say) once a month then that must be the only show you go to see. I've lost count of the number of misunderstandings I've had when people have jumped to this incorrect conclusion. They see me back again after a month and it never occurs to them that I might have been half way across the country seeing something else only 72 hours earlier, that my next theatre trip is the day after tomorrow, and that I've been to see ten other shows since the last time they saw me. "Oh, we thought it was just us you came to see" is one of the most common things people say to me when they find out their assumptions are wrong.

You can see that attitude right here in this thread. "See something new", they say. I do see something new. I also see something familiar. The two aren't mutually exclusive.


Well said, as per usual Matthew.  I agree!

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#10 Blue

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Posted 26 February 2007 - 06:39 PM

So what is the show that people have seen the most then?

The show I have seen the most is Les Mis. I've now seen it over 40 times but then that is over its 21 year run.

The show I saw in most rapid succession was Caroline or Change - 7 times in a row.




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