RTÉ admits Toy Show Musical has flopped at the box office but insists the show will go on for years
RTÉ has admitted that Toy Show The Musical, the state broadcaster’s expensive and ambitious live Christmas show, was underperforming at the box office.
The publicly-funded broadcaster has refused to explain how much the fledgling show has cost compared to its earnings, but has revealed that RTÉ will need to rerun the musical for “a few years” to recoup its investment in the project.
The musical, a fictional story set around the night of the nationally popular Late Late Toy Show, was plagued by illness and cancellations at the height of its run, as well as reports that ticket sales were less than what the network bosses had anticipated.
After the Irish Independent revealed that RTÉ had rejected a freedom of information request about the publicly funded broadcaster’s profits and losses from the musical, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) asked RTÉ to explain how much it had spent on the highly publicized company.
In a Jan. 11 letter to PAC, RTÉ director-general Dee Forbes said that “new creative ventures of all kinds carry a degree of risk” and that “many of RTÉ’s most popular television shows would have required many years of investment to grow the.” stature and the success they enjoy today.”
Ms Forbes said RTÉ would not disclose the costs or revenue from the musical venture because it “needed to protect its commercial interests”.
Ms Forbes also appeared to criticize Brian Stanley, the Dáil’s spending watch chair, for giving a media interview about PAC’s concerns about the musical days on its maiden voyage.
“We also took note of the comments made by the committee chair on Morning Ireland, RTÉ Radio 1, on December 20 mid-broadcast,” Ms Forbes said.
“As with any new project, there is opportunity for learning, change and improvement as we look at year two and beyond. It is in the nature of creative development and innovation to start new, original things – it is rarely easy.”
In a lengthy response to PAC, accompanying Ms Forbe’s letter, RTÉ attempted to defend the musical, saying it “will of course complete a much more detailed analysis of Toy Show the Musical in due course.” As is typical for musicals of this scale and ambition, our goal is to bring the show back over a few years to recoup our investment.”
The state broadcaster said it was very proud of the show “overall”.
“Although the audience was smaller than we had hoped, we are very encouraged by the response from those who attended, especially the children,” it said.
It was noted that kids were very “absorbed” by the show, despite the fact that kids these days are “difficult to deal with with so many digital distractions”.
The stage adaptation of the annual TV event was originally billed for multiple shows per day between December 10th and New Year’s Eve.
In the end, seven billed performances were canceled just before Christmas week – which RTÉ says was due to illness. A performance was canceled while the audience was already in their seats.
“The cancellation of a number of sold out/almost sold out shows on 17/18. December due to cast/crew illness had a major impact on viewership, not just for those shows but also for the aftermath of mood and word of mouth about the show over the Christmas period,” RTÉ told the Dáil’s public spending regulator.
“As with any new creative initiative, improvements and changes can be made to the show, along with a review of all the operational and commercial underpinnings of the project, but overall we believe we have a lot to build on for the years to come.”
RTÉ said that the success of the Late Late Toy Show and the thousands of people who apply for tickets each year have led to “a multitude of ideas to expand the Toy Show brand beyond the program itself”.
The idea for the Toy Show Musical emerged from a workshop in early 2020 where RTÉ staff tried to come up with ideas for “live events”. A detailed business case for the musical was created.
“The final green light for the project was given by a subgroup of the RTÉ Board (the Audit and Risk Subcommittee and the Programs Subcommittee) on March 29, 2022,” RTÉ said.
The network also appeared to defend the frequent rotation of commercials for the musical on its TV and radio stations.
“Like all broadcasters, RTÉ promotes our own programming and is specifically authorized by our regulator to promote programme-related projects such as Toy Show the Musical outside of commercial airtime,” it said.
https://www.independent.ie/news/rte-admits-toy-show-musical-flopped-at-box-office-but-insists-show-will-run-for-years-42297062.html RTÉ admits Toy Show Musical has flopped at the box office but insists the show will go on for years