Broadway or West End? Stephen Sondheim or Andrew Lloyd Webber? We will rock you or American Idiot? How does one decide?
Fans of musicals will be familiar with these questions, and the truth is that even experts in the field are hesitant to give a definitive answer. This is probably due to the fact that both programming and productions are becoming increasingly similar between cities, and this makes it very difficult to make a choice. However, the data speak for themselves; it seems that in recent seasons, London has broken records in the number of theater-goers. What else would we expect from the city of Shakespeare?
On the other hand, New York boasts of being much riskier and original when it comes to the release of new pieces, among which we always discover adaptations of films, books, and even television series (Spiderman, Shrek, Catch Me If You Can). The British, meanwhile, bet on tradition as a guarantee of success (The Phantom of the Opera, Les Miserables, The Lion King) but are slowly integrating some new works (Once; Matilda, The Musical; Charlie and the Chocolate Factory). Of course, there are indisputable classics that have their rightful place reserved on both cities’ billboards season after season (Chicago, Mamma Mia, Miss Saigon), and that´s where the real battle is played: are they really the same presentations? Which cast shines more brightly? Which production is better? Whether for better or worse, that call is left to the viewers.
For years, these two cities have disputed over who is the Theater City, which has resulted in each recruiting the very best of the entertainment industry to top their billboards, and productions that truly give you goose bumps.
But really, beyond all comparisons, the experience of seeing a show in either one of the meccas of “show business” is a must for anyone who appreciates talent at its finest.
So whatever city you choose to visit, make sure you get your tickets in advance so you won’t end up paying a fortune to see some second-rate work from the last row of the theater. And don’t forget that if there’s one thing these two rival cities have in common (theatrically speaking) it’s to attract millions of viewers eager to experience a unique evening.