(Sorry we can’t) Imagine This

As I blogged a couple of months ago, it was always going to be a tough sell.

Imagine This - the show which will forever be known as ‘the holocaust musical’ - opened at the New London Theatre last night and, judging from the overnight reviews, its prospects look bleak.

The reviews peak with Charles Spencer’s lukewarm response in The Daily Telegraph, but, it’s downhill from there. The Guardian isn’t impressed and nor is The Times. Likewise, our very own Stage reviewer Mark Shenton doesn’t see the show as a winner.

Most of the critics - while praising the effort put in by the cast - seem to think that the concept is simply a bad one. To paraphrase - they argue ‘A musical about the holocaust sounds like a bad idea and it is one’.

Do you think that’s true? Are some subjects just not suited to the musical treatment? Or can the best musicals sometimes come from the most unlikely sources? Sweeney Todd, Les Miserables and Cats all spring to mind.

And, on the subject of Les Mis, will these notices be the death knell for Imagine This? After all, Les Mis didn’t review that well and it’s still going strong, all these years on.

I spoke to Imagine This’ lead actor Peter Polycarpou a couple of weeks ago and he certainly seemed convinced that the show would rely more on good word of mouth from audiences than the critical reception.

Was he right? Or are we in for another quick closure at the New London following on from Gone with the Wind?

2 Comments

I am a dance teacher and choreographer and I watched the show last night (19th November) and I was overwhelmed by the passion of the actors. The rousing songs were delivered brilliantly and I was singing two of them this morning!
Yes we are in a recession, it is coming up to Christmas and it is a touchy subject, but I came away feeling that perhaps our lot is not so bad after all.
The people they were depicting had such courage and strength it makes one feel that with the right attitude any misfortune can be overcome, a great tribute to any show.
I personally am tired of sickly remakes that rely on a celebrity to entice the audiences in. We should encourage anyone who has the guts to make a new show from scratch and not rely on shows produced so many times before! Someone has had the guts to put on a brand new show, and we should be applauding that in itself!
The audience sprang to their feet for a standing ovation at the end, a well deserved one to my mind.
A great show. A great cast. Wonderful set. Brilliant costumes. Total commitment from all concerned. A great evening's entertainment.
Thank you all involved in "Imagine This"

It was always going to be a tough sell but if the show was good it wouldn't matter. Unfortunately, Imagine This isn't that good a show - subject matter aside. The characters are stock characters with nothing new to say . The music is generic Euro pop without any basis in middle European rhythms or for the Masada sequences , middle eastern flavor. The lyrics are trite and generic and while the performers were committed to their roles they did nothing to tug the heart. Of course the last scene was emotional- how could it not be? But the show simply isn't good enough. Its on the level of most musicals of recent years - Daddy Cool, Zorro, and all those pre-Hairspray Shaftsbury shows. Tough sells can do well if the show is good - witness Titanic on Broadway but Imagine This just isn't good .

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