Should theatre shows be limited to how long they can run for?

The Lion King, Thriller, Wicked, Mamma Mia, Les Miserables and Phantom of the Opera are just some of the shows in the West End that have been running for over ten years and let’s not even start talking about The Mousetrap which has been playing longer than my parents have been alive! To see shows surviving long lives, keeping people in secure employment is brilliant but it does make me wonder if some new shows fail and close early because they can’t compete with these huge, well known productions.

Tourists make up a huge number of the theatre going public and they understandably sometimes opt to see the long running, well known shows that are a ‘safe bet’. But are there better shows out there than say Thriller (which has been running for over ten years) which some might say is clogging up the West End, when we could be making room to give newer shows a chance at life?

Would it be better if theatre shows were capped at how long they could be on in one theatre for – say three years – to ensure a constant churn of different productions are available.

Do we become complacent with theatre and think “I want to see that show at some point” but then ever get around to it because we assume that once in the West End, a show will be there for a while? When in fact if we knew it was there for a limited time, we may be more inclined to book in advance and secure tickets to make sure that we see what we are keen on.

The best show I saw on Broadway last week was Beetlejuice the Musical, ★★★★★ of fun, but today it has announced it will close in June 2020 (after just over a year) to make way for The Music Man starring Hugh Jackman. Many people are upset about this show closing (myself included) but how many years should a show run for? Is anything more than a year really necessary?


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