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Friday Theatre News: The Good, The Bad And The Dolly

It's been another busy 24 hours or so in the world of theatre - again, some sad stories as is to be expected in this trying time, but thankfully, some positive ones. So let's get straight to it. Starting with the more joyous stories before throwing in the not so happy ones.

When talking about what shows could possibly work while we are socially distancing, the first thing that comes to mind is the amazing Jason Robert Brown work The Last Five Years (which coincidentally is the same amount of time it feels like we've been in lockdown for). Recently staged beautifully at Southwark Playhouse, it has been announced a new lockdown version of the show will be performed virtually via The Other Palace. The show tells the story of married couple Jamie and Cathy but is told at the start of the relationship from his perspective and at the end of the relationship from hers. Apart from one song in the middle, they never interact - perfect for social distancing.

Starring Lauren Samuels and Danny Becker, the show will play three performances from June 25th to 27th at 7.30pm with tickets costing £8 for each. Ticket go on sale next Friday but sign up for priority access from https://lwtheatres.co.uk/whats-on/the-last-five-years/


Speaking of The Other Palace, Amelie recently completed a UK tour with a critically acclaimed run at the venue. If you were lucky enough to see the show, you'll know firsthand what a beautiful piece of theatre this was - it was impossible to leave without a smile on your face. The good news is you can now recreate that joy as it has been announced a cast recording from the recent London run will be available next Friday. The first taste, 'Stay' is available to listen to at https://youtu.be/EvkkeBxOKU0 now.


Star of Pretty Woman and Six, Aimie Atkinson, has announced she will be performinh a 24 hour musical-athon to raise money for charity. The event starts at 6pm tomorrow (Saturday 30th May) and lasts until 6pm the next day with no gaps at all. That's a lot of musicals... but strangely still never enough. Raising funds for Save The Children, you can donate at https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/musicalathon and check out the event itself at https://www.youtube.com/user/aimieatkinson.


MGM have announced a new film adaptation of the classic musical Fiddler On The Roof. Since it's first performance in 1964, Fiddler has been a mainstay of musical theatre, most recently completing a successful extended run in the West end last year. The new movie version will be directed by Thomas Kail, who has recently directed the forthcoming live filming of Hamilton (released July 3rd).


A few more shows scheduled for the near future have been announced as being delayed. Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat enjoyed a sold out run at the London Palladium last summer and was due to repeat that with an encore season this year. However, due to theatres remaining closed, that has now been pushed back until summer 2021. Jac Yarrow will return in his star turn of Joseph with Jason Donovan also coming back to play the Pharaoh. Existing tickets will be automatically moved to the equivalent date next year.


- With Joseph vacating the London Palladium this summer, Andrew Lloyd Webber has announced that he will be using the legendary venue as a test-bed to develop methods that will work with social distancing and ensure cast, crew and audience can return to the theatre safely. Other countries including South Korea and Germany are already testing out ways to make theatres safe when they reopen so this is a welcome sign for the eventual return of the West end.


Another show that is unfortunately not able to go ahead is the revival of Hello Dolly. Starring Imelda Staunton, it was due to open at the Adelphi theatre in August. Due to Imelda's commitment to filming The Crown next year, it has been announced the show will not hit the West end until 2022. Dates will be announced in due course. In the meantime, anyone with tickets will be contacted for a refund. It's disappointing as this was going to be one of the biggest theatre events of the summer, but was obviously to be expected, and will surely be worth the wait when it does finally arrive in two years.


The cancelled run of Hello Dolly does mean the Adelphi will have no production scheduled when theatres do eventually reopen. Waitress, was due to close on July 4th. Could this mean it could potentially come back, or maybe Back To The Future could speed up his inevitable West end transfer and take over? The future is obviously very uncertain right now, but when the theatres can open their doors, the Adelphi and Savoy will both be without confirmed productions.


- The Playhouse theatre have also announced that both of their forthcoming productions, The Seagull, starring Emilia Clarke and A Doll's House, starring Jessica Chastain, will both be rescheduled in the future. Dates have not been confirmed as yet.


- Birmingham Hippodrome have announced that they will not be reopening their theatre until November 2nd at the very earliest.


- An update from Society of London Theatre (SOLT) is expected at the beginning of next week, announcing a new date when theatres will be closed until. This is likely to be the end of July at the earliest.


It's been a week of sad news with tour postponements and cancellations, but among the saddest is the news that musical theatre radio station Encore will be closed down. Launched in 2016, Encore radio has been a favourite among fans of musical theatre for years and will be sadly missed. It is part of an effort by owners Bauer to streamline their portfolio of stations. A final airdate is yet to be announced.


And finally...


The incredible and rather tasty Marisha Wallace has released a brand new single today. 'Tomorrow' is a truly beautiful version of the iconic song from Annie and is available on all streaming platforms. The video features cameos from Beverley Knight, several of her Waitress co-stars including Katharine McPhee among others and is being premiered at 4pm today on twitter.com/playbill. Proceeds from the song go to MAD trust and Broadway Cares.


Don't forget tonight has no shortage of musical theatre treats with Hairspray available on youtube.com/theshowsmustgoon (Review here tomorrow), Allegiance on BroadwayHD, Broadway Cares showing a tribute to Chita Rivera, Beverley Knight doing a Leave A Light On living room concert and Take That performing an at home set as well.


With no shortage of stagey treats available this weekend, I hope that counters some of the sadder stories that have come out this week.



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