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Broadway Blunders Get Another Shot at Success

Shrek After being slammed by critics, Broadway shows that only lived for a short run have moved on to an afterlife. International venues seem to be a safe haven for flopped productions, granting them a second chance in front of a fresh audience.

The New York Times reported that “Shrek the Musical,” which only lasted for 14 months on Broadway, has been revamped for the West End where it drew more success at the box office and a warmer critical reception. One crucial alteration was the use of a dragon puppet in the London production, in contrast to the stationary dragon character in New York.

The increasing Broadway budgets give producers more incentive to bring failed shows back to life, with international touring providing an alternate market. Japan, Germany, and the Netherlands are particularly receptive to American musicals. Disney’s 2006 rendition of “Tarzan” on Broadway was slaughtered by critics and closed after only 15 months, but thrived in the Netherlands after some overhauling by Dutch theater producer Joop van den Ende.

“Legally Blonde” is another example of a movie-gone-musical that prospered overseas. Despite its lack of Tony recognition, the production earned three Oliver Awards in London. Lead producer Sonia Friedman said the musical’s humor translated better for a British audience, and lower production costs also supported the show’s longer run. In New York, some production-related expenses are higher due to union negotiated salaries.

Theater isn’t the only entertainment medium to find success in the foreign market. Read about how films are pulling in more revenue internationally than ever before. 

Pictured: Cast of "Shrek the Musical" in LA (Photo: Getty Images)

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