How Space Mountain Can Affect Your Theatre Purchases.

If you were go to DisneyWorld tomorrow, what would be the first ride that you would queue up for? Would it be the Tower of Terror or Space Mountain? Or would you be joining me in the line for the spinning tea cups? Believe me, it says a lot about you!

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Risk is apparent in every transaction we make. Whether it is buying a $2 chocolate bar from the supermarket or purchasing a $450 ticket to The Book of Mormon, there is a varying element of risk in every purchase. But in saying that, there are a number of things that can be done to decrease the risk associated with any consumer choice.

Let’s go back to the DisneyWorld example for a second . . .

Maybe you are avoiding Space Mountain because you think that the roller coaster will come off the rails when you ride it. Well, every person will have their own number as to how many times they will need to watch the ride until they are confident that they will be safe. Yours may be 2 or 200 – my magic number is somewhere in the vicinity of 4 million, but there is a number out there that would work for me!

By watching the ride over and over again, the risk of engaging with it decreases as it starts to lose its unpredictability. A similar thing happens with musicals.

The investment that it takes to purchase a ticket to a professional show can turn new consumers away from the box office because they are just too unsure as to whether they will enjoy the show. While the answer isn’t to sit them in front of the doors and watch all sorts of people enter and exit the theatre with a smile on their face (or maybe it is?), there are many things that can be done to get these people through the door.

Now, I don’t want to rant. But there are a number of people on the internet who are unhappy with Opera Australia’s casting announcement for The King and I next year. If you haven’t heard, the two leads are Lisa McCune and Teddy Tahu Rhodes. The same two people who starred in the incredibly successful and now-touring-Australia production of South Pacific. And I think it is ingenious!

Why, you may ask? Well, I’ll tell you . . .

Firstly, there is a reason why these two performers headed up South Pacific – they are incredibly talented performers. Lisa McCune has a long history as one of the shining lights of Australian musical theatre and Teddy Tahu Rhodes has been one of the features of Opera Australia’s programming for a number of years. They can certainly hold their own on stage and they have an unquestionable chemistry when they perform together as well (where that comes from, I don’t care, as long as I get to witness it on stage).

But you would be naïve to think that casting comes down to pure talent – which these two have got in bucket loads. If your aim is to present the most remarkable and best performed piece of work ever, then the performers probably won’t be well-known as YouTube shows us daily that there are thousands of incredibly talented people out there yet to be discovered. And you are most welcome to produce that piece of work – but you can’t complain when nobody turns up to see it.

If the aim of presenting a musical is to bring new people to the theatre and spread the wonderful message that musical theatre communicates to millions of people every year, then you want think about the marketability of your cast. Who will they bring to the theatre? Will the cast decrease the risk enough that people will buy a ticket without a worry that they won’t enjoy the show?

So really, the question you should be asking is not ‘Who is the most talented person in the entire world to play this role?’, it is ‘Who will bring new and old people to the theatre AND absolutely knock their socks off while they are on stage?’.

And that is why Lisa McCune and Teddy Tahu Rhodes deserve to be back in The King and I. Because just like we all have a magic number until we ride Space Mountain, there are people out there whose magic number has just been called for The King and I with the announcement of these two theatre favourites!

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