WOS TV: Polycarpou Hits Back at Imagine's Critics
Date: 19 December 2008
On the eve of the early closure of so-called "holocaust musical" Imagine This (See News, 8 Dec 2008), here's an exclusive interview with leading cast member Peter Polycarpou, who shares with Whatsontage.com his reactions to the raft of poor reviews the show received and comments on the wider issue of musicals and the critical establishment.
Imagine This follows in the footsteps of many new musicals which have struggled to survive in the West End this year. Other notable casualties include its predecessor at the New London theatre, Trevor Nunn's epic musical retelling of Gone With the Wind. which closed after only two months (See News, 31 May 2008).
Polycarpou was speaking at the launch of the Whatsonstage.com Theatregoers' Choice Awards 09, held on 5 December at the London Hippodrome, where the shortlists for this year's awards were announced. Imagine This is nominated in four categories, including Best New Musical (See News, 5 Dec 2008).
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Imagine This producer Beth Trachtenberg recently 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 (See Review Round-up, 20 Nov 2008). In a recent statement, 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.”
You can view this – & many more – clips on tvision.whatsonstage.com. To vote in this year's Theatregoers' Choice Awards, click here
|I wouldn't say this was the perfect musical, but there is no way it deserved such appalling reviews. Personally I think many critics had already decided they didn't like it before they even went to see it- it had already been nicknamed 'the holocaust musical', a completely inappropriate phrase anyway. As Mr Polycarpou says- criticise the staging or the book or the cast, don't write a diatribe on whether it's a suitable topic or not. And finally, PLEASE GIVE NEW, ORIGINAL MUSICALS A CHANCE- otherwise we'll end up with nothing but jukebox musicals! - David Carpenter||28 Dec 08|
|Disgusted by how this amazing show has been treated. Expect a cast CD though at the end of Jan/beginning of Feb. Let's support it in any way we can. - Karl Vadaszffy||26 Dec 08|
|Completely agree with the first comment. The show was critisised and is closing because it has some serious flaws and IS dodgy in the way it DOES trivialise the subject matter (for a sensitive and truly moving depiction of life in the concentration camps you should all chase up Ghetto by Joshua Sobol). The ridiculous amount of time spent in the play within the play made most people lose total interest in the characters that were actually important to the over all peace. The choreography involving those ridiculous soldiers ruined all the songs that it was pasted around and the lyrics often caused unintentional laughter. I firmly believe (as i did in the case of 'Gone With the Wind') that if the show had real worth it would have lived through the negative notices it recieved. Good riddance quite frankly! - Anon||22 Dec 08|
|The critics have no right to slam shows without giving them a fair chance. (Look at what bad publicity did for Taboo in New York and that was a great musical). Imagine This may have some flaws, mainly in the book, but the music is original and truly stirring with sweeping melodies and superb singing. The cast all act well and put their heart and soul into their performances. Peter Polycarpou is a true professional and there isn,t a bad member in the whole cast. I own the concept album and already was familiar with the score before seeing this musical and can honestly say it is one of my favourite CDs at present. This show deseved a go and longer to try and make an impact. It wasn,t the show that was bad - it was the reviews of short-sighted critics (Telegraph reviewer excepted) and that is unforgiveable. In an age where rehashed revivals and juke-box musicals are churned up in an endless, boring stream, why can,t people accept originality and creativity anymore? I am disgusted at theatre critics and the public who take what they read as gospel. I ignore all critics and make my own mind up and very rarely have the same opinions as any of them.
- Taboolie||21 Dec 08|
|At last a top turn from the West End has stood up and said what we all think about the critics!!
In my personal opinion "Imagine This" was a beautifully executed production of an OK musical. I can think of a lot worse music, lyrics, books and productions of musicals that made it to the West End and lasted. But that was not Mr. Polycarpous' point.
The point that what Mr. Polycarpou made brilliantly in that interview about was; There aren't any critics out there who really know anything JUST about Musical Theatre. You WOULDN'T send a Dance critic to review an opera, and you WOULDN"T send food and restaurant critic to a computer games convention. He's very right. Why aren't there specialized Musical Theatre critics? These Drama critics seem to pull to pieces anything that isn't Sondheim, or produced at the Donmar or the National (I've seen one rather average musical production at the Donmar in past 12 months that got raves, when I thought it was OK). And just for the record - OK I know its not the done thing to read the Daily Mail, but some people do - Quentin Letts is a political commentator!
Mr Polycarpou is a great actor and obviously a lover of Musical Theatre. I'm sure he's aware that some shows don't work and some shows do. He's been in every kind of musical. Hit, Miss, National and RSC. He's just like so many of us out there who adore live Musical Theatre. If the audience jump to their feet, as they did when I saw "Imagine This" surely that should mean it should have some sort of a life! Not become a victim of DRAMA critics.
Jonty1980 - Jonty1980||19 Dec 08|
|The critics slammed the show because it is bad. Bad book, bad score and really bad lyrics. The production is old fashioned and unimaginative, the choreography is ludicrously unsuitable. The fact that it is also tastless crap has little to do with it. If the audiences are so keen, why are they staying away in their droves? As everyone mentions, bad reviews didn't harm Les Miz. Perhaps the producers should stop posting fake good notices on this and other sites and face up to the responsibilities of loosing millions of dollars of other people's money. - joesmith||19 Dec 08|
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