BLOG: Is celebrity casting ever a good thing?

Celebrities mean more people buy tickets,
ticket sales mean a successful run of a show,
a successful show keeps actors employed.

This week saw the announcement that former England cricket captain, Andrew “Freddie” Flintoff will swap the cricket pitch to tread the boards in the world premiere of Kay Mellor’s Fat Friends – the Musical on it’s UK Tour alongside X Factor winner Sam Bailey and star of both stage and screen Jodie Prenger. This has yet again caused upset in the world of theatre with actors saying they have trained for years to play these roles and they shouldn’t be given to people with little or no acting experience, just because they are famous.

Celebrity casting in theatre can be a good thing (when cast properly). I know there are a million professionally trained theatre actors out there who would love to be cast in these shows but in reality we need a few ‘names’ here and there to help keep shows alive. Whether we think it’s good or bad, household names sell tickets.

I’m not saying there hasn’t been some awful casting choices made in recent years when it comes to celebrities on stage. I’m not going to name names here but some producers have made fools of themselves by casting famous people in productions when they don’t have the ability to perform the role the way it is required. This is down to the casting director and the producer to ensure who ever they cast is suitable. We are very quick to criticise celebrities for taking on a theatre roles but if someone offered you a chance to perform on stage, said they believed you would be great and offered you a lot of money to do it, wouldn’t you?

Is it not better to cast some celebrities in theatre so that their ‘name’ sells tickets and could potentially avoid putting a whole cast of actors out of work because no one buys tickets and the show has to close early because of it? Celebrities mean more people buy tickets – ticket sales mean a successful run of a show – a successful show keeps actors employed.

Also, whether we think it’s good or bad, celebrity casting gets people talking about it and that is the best marketing a show could ever hope for.

I don’t know what Andrew “Freddie” Flintoff is going to be like in Fat Friends – The Musical but shouldn’t we reserve judgement and give celebrities a chance to prove themselves?

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