Why London Authorities Shut Down the Immersive Hit Rats, The Musical

News   Why London Authorities Shut Down the Immersive Hit Rats, The Musical
Despite its immense popularity with the Renaissance tourist market, Rats, The Musical was shut down by London officials 416 years ago today.

Performed in a famously acoustic stretch of sewer directly under the Thames River in 1598, Rats is widely regarded as the world's first immersive musical experience, as all audience members sat on the floor of the active pipe.


Derided by critics ("I smell a rat," wrote the Associated Town Crier), tourists loved the spectacle, which told the story of a group of rats competing for entrance into rat heaven, and featured hundreds of real London rats performing complex choreography and 30-part harmony. Unfortunately, most audience members caught the Bubonic Plague after watching the production, as infected rat performers often bit viewers as part of the "100% authentic experience," as the show's advertising materials put it.

Officials who caught wind of the infection rate at Rats swiftly closed the musical, but many of the most popular songs from the show (including "Mr. Mistofle-fleas" and "Jellicle Rats") live on in London's many rat karaoke bars.

Click here if you're itching to learn more about other disastrous London musicals!

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