Friday, 19 October 2012

Shortest Running Muscials

Everyone is aware of long-running musicals, such as Phantom of the Opera or Les Miserables but not all productions share their phenomenal success. If a show closes early it is usually due to poor reviews, leading to lack of ticket sales however, occasionally, the reason for their early departure from the stage is more complicated. Some of the shortest running musicals in recent history include those outlined below.


This musical has gained fame by being known as one of the shortest running musicals of all time. Wilde, based on the life of Oscar Wilde, opened at the Shaw Theatre, London, in 2004. It lasted only one night before closing. Wilde received terrible reviews, one critic going as far as saying it was "the worst musical in the world, ever"! Mike Read, the musical's producer, stressed that the failure of the show was due to the poor quality sound system and the lack of organisation for ticket sales. Read also admitted that he regretted trying to do all the work himself and not delegating to other, perhaps more experienced, professionals.

Carrie - The Musical

The musical version of Stephen King's Carrie, started out at Stratford-Upon-Avon. Apparently there were numerous technical issues as well as scripts being rewritten after almost every performance. Despite its initial teething troubles, Carrie The Musical was taken to Broadway, but, due to disparaging reviews, the financial backers withdrew their funding for the show. The musical had 16 previews and 5 performances before being closed.

Behind the Iron Mask

From its first performance, Behind the Iron Mask received a succession of demoralising reviews, in fact, it is rumoured that some people visited the show with the sole intention of heckling the actors. Night after night, money was being spent on the musical at the same time as more and more tickets were going unsold and in August 2005 the curtains went down for the final time after only 18 days.

The Far Pavilions

This musical had more promise than perhaps other shows mentioned above, insofar as the reviews it received had not been the production's downfall. It did, however, suffer from extremely poor ticket sales. The show, which cost an estimated £7 million to put on, ended in September 2005 after 5 months in the West End. It was the opinion at the time that the sudden drop in sales was attributed to the lack of visitors to London after the 7/7 bombings that took place in July that year.

Murderous Instincts

Described as a combination of "salsa, comedy, murder and mystery" this musical's doors shut five days after opening. The eccentric producer, Manny Fox, hoped to take the show to Broadway, although this never came into fruition. The production was blighted with arguments which lead to numerous sackings or resignations - in fact, it seemed that more drama was occurring off-stage rather than on-stage! The heated atmosphere between cast and crew brought the show to an end in October 2004.

This post was written in collaboration with Leicester Square Box Office, retailers of musical tickets for shows across London.

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