The Playgoer: "Maria" Madness

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Tuesday, September 19, 2006

"Maria" Madness

I suppose I can feel less guilty over my curiosity about Andrew Lloyd Webber's TV show if eminence grise Michael Billington can weigh in. At last, someone raises a key question: "Isn't there also a big difference between wowing a TV audience and filling a vast, 2,000-seat theatre like the Palladium?"

Funny that now there's some outrage over Lloyd Webber announcing that, of course, the winner is not going to do 8 shows a week and will have a "stand by". In other words...a professional actress? Which audiences will be the lucky ones...

A parting shot from Billington:

It also seems an apt comment on the philistine nature of television today that it sees theatre purely as a source of competitive individualism. When did you last see unadulterated Shakespeare on TV? Or for that matter a play by Ibsen or Chekhov? ... The real problem, I suggest, lies with the reductive vulgarity of a medium that has nothing but contempt for theatre.
And that's England he's talking about! So much for the grass being greener...


Anonymous said...

Michael Billington would be fired in the US for making a comment like that. After all, TV is better than the theatre! The best writing of our time is on television! The theatre is dead! Wahhhhhhh!!!

June said...

Eh, I don't know if I agree with you there, anonymous. In this country, theater still benefits from snob value and television is hurt by condescension.

True, papers like the Times are hiring smart people to be television writers--but almost exclusively when they come to the job they know very little about television, hell, it seems they've seen very little television.

I yield to no one in my love of The Wire, but I sigh every time someone declares it the best show on television. It is, but most of hte people who say that are familiar with about three TV shows, all of which appear on HBO on Sunday nights.