West End theatre producers are to make radical attempts to fireproof new shows against the critics as they survey the smouldering wreckage of productions closed following bad reviews.
The plan is to alter the nature of the all-important ‘press night’. While a glittering opening night, packed with stars and journalists, is a key part of the publicity, it means that all newspaper reviews cover a single performance before an audience of insiders. Instead, the aim now is for reviewers to make their influential judgments while sitting with ordinary paying punters.
Producers believe the opening night combination of nervous relatives and anxious financial backers can destabilise performances. The experimental move, which has been cautiously welcomed by several critics as well as by theatre owners, is a response to the growing power of the London critics.
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