The West End: ‘Middle-Class’ Values and Commercialisation

  • Michael Goron
Part of the Palgrave Studies in British Musical Theatre book series (PSBMT)


Goron investigates ways in which the late-nineteenth-century West End musical stage was affected by ‘respectable’ values. A brief historical summary of the development of West End theatre between 1843 and 1881 addresses the genesis of the D’Oyly Carte Opera Company within the booming leisure marketplace of late-Victorian London. Goron explores changes in middle-class leisure habits, and the consequent development of theatrical entertainments to meet the needs of a ‘respectable’ market sector. The chapter also explores the profit-driven ‘gentrification’ of the West End and the pricing out of working-class audiences, which occurred alongside attempts to raise the social standing of theatre practitioners. Popular musical theatre genres such as burlesque and operetta are examined to assess their relationship to existing ‘middle-class’ anti-theatrical prejudice. This chapter also explores ways in which Gilbert, Sullivan and Carte positioned their product in the theatrical marketplace through a deliberate rejection of earlier musical theatre forms and conformity to ‘high-art’ tastes.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael Goron
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Southampton Solent UniversitySouthamptonUK
  2. 2.University of WinchesterWinchesterUK

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