Star Power!

The producers of Kinky Boots are currently in negotiations about opening up a West End version of Kinky Boots. But they are also contemplating bringing over the stars of the Broadway show. Good idea?


Today’s theatre scene, with the exception of show-stoppers like The Book of Mormon and Wicked, are generally celebrity centric. And it is these stars which pull in a large proportion of the audience. Just have a look at some of these recent (and future) Broadway productions:

  • Evita starring Ricky Martin
  • Nice Work If You Can Get It starring Matthew Broderick
  • Promises, Promises starring Kristin Chenoweth & Sean Hayes
  • Houdini (TBA 2014 opening) starring Hugh Jackman
  • Harvey starring Jim Parsons

All of these shows relied heavily on their star power to increase their audiences and it worked. This is because people love to go and see the people they have watched on television or listened to on the charts have a go on a stage.

The interesting thing about Kinky Boots’ decisions is that neither of their two leading actors, Stark Sands and Billy Porter, are globally famous. Yet the producers are still contemplating shipping them off to West End.

The biggest issue that I see with this decision is that the producers are losing the opportunity to cast two actors who specifically appeal to British audiences. Yes, these actors created the roles on Broadway, but is that really enough to attract audiences and differentiate the show from the competition – especially in an arena that is almost on the same level as Broadway?

Maybe in a small theatre city like Melbourne or Sydney, but probably not in the competitive theatre district that is the West End.

Still I am happy to be proven wrong.

If they do go ahead with this decision and open with the original stars on the West End, just promise me that the two main American-born stars will work on their British accents. I have a feeling that a British audience wouldn’t like to watch a quintessentially British story, set in London, about the history of factory workers played out by two characters who have American versions of British accents!

Do you think it would work? Leave a comment and let me know.