As the last celebrity/patrons left the Beatrix Theatre and the final performer/musicians made their weary way home last night, one thought must have been on their minds.Not- as indicated above- how great this show had been because it was not; but more like “What just happened?”
For the past forty years a theatrical company variously known as Joop van den Ende Theatricals ( or Productions) or alternatively - and latterly- Stage Entertainment- has been in the forefront of a veritable craze for a hitherto virtually unknown genre of art known as musicals. It has given audiences not only of “known Netherlanders” but also plain people crashing chandeliers,boisterous barricades and high octane helicopters; it has given theatre goers sights and sounds unlike anything seen on stages in this country before.
All this as a result of (a) the era of the so called “mega musical” introduced by the likes of Lloyd Webber and Boubil and Schoenberg who composed and sometimes produced them and (b) the business genius of the afore mentioned Mr Joop van Ende.
Now,note my description of him as a “business genius” because the fact is that at no time has this crass,common and frequently quite vulgar man ever displayed any real passion for musicals as such.
For him these stage shows were merely products; another way of making a fabulous amount of money at no great risk to himself as he always covered his assets by packing his “entertainments” - as he saw them, note the name of his company/ with stars and making sure that they were heavily sponsored.
But Joop has gone now; not yet dead,but no longer in a position to berate and harangue artists and even audiences ( as I once saw him do) or extoll the grandeur of the toilets in his theatres whilst ignoring their artistic or technical values.
Now, Albert van den Linde -his greatest rival this side of “Soldaat van Oranje” that infuriating incarnation of the kind of success that he,Joop, had always dreamed of but failed to achieve- has been passed a poison chalice as the new boss man of SE.
“The Bodyguard” shows how lethal this is. It is the latest of a whole series of so-called “musicals” to emerge noisily and vaculously from Broadway and The West End in recent years.
Based upon a commercially successful movie, it displays how bankrupt these two former power houses of the musical aesthetic have become,both in ideas and music itself.
Where in the past it was the theatre which generated the creation of new shows and the film world followed,adding greater production values on one hand and the intimacy of the close-up and clever editing, now everything works the other way around.
Today,any movie that is now or has ever been a box office hit is in danger of being reduced to a claustrophobic,creaky theatrical crank.
Nothing is gained in this transfer of artistic media but a great deal is lost. There is after all a reason why productions like this one began as movies and not stage entertainments.
No doubt the scenery and such are grand but they are still artificial; even worse than CGI and the “stars” do their best,but they are still no more than,“copy cat” performers reminiscent of the “sound mix” imitators that Cursed our screens in the dear,dead days when Joop was still just a tv producer.
What just happened I am afraid is at least the beginning of the end of the great days of the musical madness that washed over this country.The excitement is gone; the glamour and glory ended.
New musicals will still be premiered here and Andre,Chantal,Carlo and Henny will still be interviewed and talk none sense about whatever; “de Telegraph” will continue to splash these events across it’s “Prive” pages and some critics with even less knowledge of these shows will write loving reviews that SE will quote equally lovingly on it’s site and in press advertisements.
But- the “fun” has gone. The party is over. From now on every new production is going to be a struggle with a down feeling. Nothing epitomizes this better than the news that when the last of the “big” shows, the long awaited and in the event comparively short lived “Billy Elliot” is to be followed by a revival of “Beauty and the Beast” Never let it be said that Albert does not think big!
Next week; the gala premiere of the stage version of “Fatal Attraction” Relax; it is not a musical….