Imagine Posts Early Notices at New London, 20 Dec
Date: 8 December 2008
The new so-called “Holocaust musical” Imagine This has posted closing notices at the West End’s New London theatre, where it had been booking until 28 February 2009. It will now have its final performance on 20 December 2008, just over a month after its opening night on 19 November following previews from 4 November (See 1st Night Photos, 20 Nov 2008).
It’s the second musical this year to close prematurely at the New London. Prior to Imagine This, the 1,100-seater had been dark since Trevor Nunn’s adaptation of Gone With the Wind finished on 14 June after just 79 performances (See News, 31 May 2008).
Set in the Warsaw Ghetto in 1942, Imagine This centres on a theatre group determined to stage a play to inspire hope and optimism within the Jewish community. However, with rumours of the Final Solution in the air, their play merges with the reality they’re trying to escape.
Peter Polycarpou heads the cast as Daniel Warshowsky, the head of a family of actors in the musical, which had a try-out last summer at the Theatre Royal Plymouth. Leila Benn Harris plays Polycarpou’s daughter Rebecca, who falls in love with the half-Christian interloper Adam, played by Simon Gleeson.
Imagine This has music by Shuki Levy, lyrics by David Goldsmith and an original book by Glenn Berenbeim. The production is directed by Timothy Sheader, designed by Eugene Lee and choreographed by Liam Steel. It has costumes by Ann Hould-Ward, lighting by Tim Mitchell, orchestrations by Chris Walker and musical supervision by Phil Bateman. Also featured in the cast are Michael Matus, Bernard Lloyd, Richard Cotton, Gary Milner, Steven Serlin, Sevan Stephan, Saran Ingram and Cameron Leigh.
Despite mixed reviews, the musical proved it has its audience supporters with four mentions in this year’s Whatsonstage.com Awards shortlists, announced on Friday (See News, 5 Dec 2008), including Best New Musical, Best Actress in a Musical for Leila Benn Harris and Best Supporting Actor in a Musical for Michael Matus.
Producer Beth Trachtenberg has placed blame for the show’s “forced” early closure squarely on the shoulders of critics, many of whom attacked the musical for exploiting and trivialising the Holocaust. In a statement released today, Trachtenberg said: “Night after night we have seen audiences stirred to the depths of their emotions by this show. Fundamentally I do not think the critics should be making a moral judgment over the subject matter and moreover that they are generally not prepared to embrace musicals.”
She continued: “I’ve witnessed the public’s response to the show that is directly opposed to a narrow-minded critical belief that musicals are limited in their emotional impact and ability to deal with meaningful subject matter in a powerful and sensitive manner. I am enormously proud of Imagine This and of the wonderful cast and crew.”
In addition to Trachtenberg, Imagine This is produced by Anita Mann, Leigh Mason, Jean Mason, Finefish Entertainment, Marlynn Scully and ICW Productions in association with Theatre Royal Plymouth. No further productions have yet been announced for the New London.
- by Terri Paddock
|It is an absolute tragedy that this show ended early. Had it been produced ten years ago it would be one of the long-running musicals alongside Les Mis and Phantom. Superb music, beautiful story, wonderful performances. Critics should hang their heads in shame while they allow quality new musicals like this to fall by the wayside and allow trashy film and pop group spin offs to dominate the West End. - Damien de Roche||25 Feb 09|
|I downloaded the concept album in November and having heard the music was determined to see the show, I managed to see the matinee on the last day and it surpassed my expectations. I was deeply moved and the music was wonderful - it is still going round inside my head. The criticisms levelled at the show are in my opinion completely unjustified and it is a tragedy that it has been taken off. I want to see it again!
- Glyn Kraemer-Johnson||29 Dec 08|
|I live in Kuwait and have just seen info about this show on TV here - in the short clips that were shown I immediately went on to the internet to see if I could book tickets during my visit to England in Feb .... to find it has closed - to me it has not been given a fair chance ... come on somebody turn the light on at the end of the tunnel - janice brown josch||28 Dec 08|
|I went to see the musical 5 times and I attended the final evening. It is extremely sad that it has closed and I would like to see it in the west end again soon. - Phillip Hall||22 Dec 08|
|I attended the final performance last night and was blown away by the quality of the performers and the musical itself. It's a tragedy that it has closed so early. - Caroline Lowe||21 Dec 08|
|Fabulous show,great cast and musicians, extremely enjoyable, cannot understand why it is closing, would have recommended it to many! IT MUST BE GIVEN ANOTHER CHANCE! - Debbie||20 Dec 08|
|I have seen this musical three times and it got better each time, this amazing cast and crew deserved so much more than this, they could not be faulted for their enthusiasm, committment and professionalism. This is a total travesty born out of appalling advertising and critics who are so far up their own a...s they wouldn't recognise a masterpiece if it came up bit them.I watched them on press night and it struck me that they had completed most of their copy beforehand, it was just another jolly for them and chance to chat to their fellow critics!
For all those who missed this superb show, it really is a tragedy!
- terry stefani||20 Dec 08|
|WHY??? i saw this show tonight and it is absolutely amazing!! The cast is soo talented and its so upsetting that it has to shut so soon.. :( - Chloe||19 Dec 08|
|I have seen it and think it is one of the best musicals I have seen, beautifully scripted, performed and a great mix of comedy and tragedy. How refreshing to see real life events told with such sensitivity and courage to tackle such a difficult topic. I took a party of students uswed to seeing your trivial "Hairspray" light entertainment stuff and all were visably moved by the beauty of this piece. What ashame it is closing but no wonder it has not appeared listed under westend shows and the publicity has been dreadful. I only got to know about it from passing the theatre I am off to book my ticket for the final performance can't wait to see it again. PS the cast are terrific! - caroline||15 Dec 08|
|Have yet to see musical but from the clips I have heard I was looking forward to it.Why can the critics not understand that we need musicals like this and not the recycled rubbish of pop groups.Does anybody know if the cd wil be available? - Lorraine||15 Dec 08|
|I am so sad the show is closing. I don't usuallt do a standing ovation but I did this show. I am so glad I made the effort to see it. - Rosemary||14 Dec 08|
|What a tragedy that this show is closing. I found it a wonderfully moving, as well as educational story, with beautiful music and an absolutely 1st class cast. Congratulations to them for giving such a wonderful performance and each of them can walk away from this with their heads held high. The failure of this musical has nothing to do with them, and everything to do with narrow minded critics who did not even give the show a chance to suceed. Let's hope that they find some way for this show to continue - FL||14 Dec 08|
|The west end needed a new musical and Imagine This has deliverd to audiences more than they expected! It is terrible that it is closing down and something must be done to stop this or re-open the musical eleswhere. Imagine This is everything a musical should be if not more with beautiful music and songs involving very moving history such as the holocaust but leaves the audience feeling hopeful,tearful and inspired and also comes away with a few jokes. The optimism displayed by the characters through such hard times sends out such a strong message to the audience and one that will always stay in their heart forever! - Octavia||13 Dec 08|
|I love this show. The critics have got to stop this relentless criticism of so many wonderful shows. I go to the theatre regularly and almost always disagree with critics. - Tracey Kan||13 Dec 08|
|While I understand where the critics are aiming, this musical has so many levels that maybe they just missed a good (not great) show that deserved better than a month's run. I saw it on 29 November matinee and was moved by the performances of most of the cast. The critics can now get back to panning things like "Wicked" and "We Will Rock You", which have better music, but not really a better story. - John Eshleman||12 Dec 08|
|One of the best musicals I have ever seen - I can't believe it's closing - Mike||09 Dec 08|
|It is a mind-blowing musical, very well and carefully made, highly entertaining and yet with a lot of messages. One of the best musicals the West End has seen for years. If only word of mouth could have had an impact sooner... - eoli kalian||09 Dec 08|
| I am saddened by this news. I thought this musical would survive and grow. I thoroughly enjoyed it and found it stretching my imagination. Musicals/plays like this should be shown, its our history, our past, we should never forget. I want to thank everyone connected to this musical, which for me was a wonderful experience one I will never forget. The music will be with me forever, the best musical I have seen for many years. - Nikki Anscomb||09 Dec 08|
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