We've reached the end of another week - the sun has been shining and geniuses in the creative industries have been adapting to the new normal and increasingly finding new ways to create theatre for us to enjoy. The week hasn't been without its sad news, but thankfully there has also been a lot of exciting news this week such as the possibility of a London theatre opening up in August. (See https://allthatdazzles.wixsite.com/allthatdazzles/post/first-london-theatre-sets-plans-to-reopen for that news)
Here are 11 need to know stories from the week in the world of theatre:
After the "interesting" announcement from Boris Johnson this week that theatres are allowed to reopen form July 4th... just not for live performances, Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden has belatedly announced a roadmap for the future of future, splitting it in five stages. They are:
Stage One - Rehearsal and training (no audiences and adhering to social distancing guidelines)
Stage Two - Performances for broadcast and recording purposes (adhering to social distancing guidelines)
Stage Three - Performances outdoors with an audience plus pilots for indoor performances with a limited distance audience
Stage Four - Performances allowed indoors/outdoors (but with a limited distanced audience indoors)
Stage Five - Performances allowed indoors/outdoors (with a fuller audience indoors)
No time frame has been mentioned for this though with Lungs at the OIld Vic beginning tonight, we are currently at stage two. Crucially, no additional funding has been awarded so the worry is this might not be enough for some theatres to survive.
The forthcoming production of Hairspray at the London Coliseum has been postponed for a second time. Originally due to begin a limited run in April this year, that was pushed back to September. It has now been delayed again - it will now begin on April 22nd 2021 for a 19 week run. Original tickets remain valid and the already announced cast are all expected to return including Michael Ball as Edna, Marisha Wallace as Motormouth, Paul Merton as Wilbur and Rita Simons as Velma. New tickets will go on sale to those who haven't already booked at the end of July.
Who doesn't love an unexpected announcement? A stage adaptation of Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code has been announced. The first production of the show will embark on a UK tour, debuting in glamorous Bromley in April next year, followed by stops all around the country. If you are one of the few people who has never read the book or seen the (admittedly flawed) movie, the story is about symbologist Robert Langdon seeking the truth about a mysterious murder. With all the twists and turns the book has, this will be an interesting one to see on stage. No word on casting yet but tickets are on sale now from https://davincicodeonstage.com/
Some sad news came out yesterday with the announcement that the legendary TKTS booth in Leicester Square is to be closed indefinitely. With no shows on sale any time soon, it doesn't come as a surprise, but there is now a concern it may not reopen at all when theatres are back in full swing. This also means redundancies for the hard working staff who provide countless punters with last minute deals on tickets. Hopefully there is a place for TKTS in the future as Leicester Square just won't feel right without it.
A reason to be excited for the future as Tim Rice has revealed in his podcast that the long awaited UK premiere of Aida, his musical with Elton John, may not be too far away. The show ran on Broadway for four years from 2000 but has never made its way over here, even though a song from the show 'Written in the stars' was a top 10 hit for Elton John and LeAnn Rimes in 1999.
Rice said before the pandemic hit, there were plans in place for a new production of Aida starting with an American tour with the hope of coming to the West end afterwards. Fans have been crying out to see it on this side of the Atlantic for 20 years so if it does make its way here, it will be most welcome.
Ahead of the arrival of his masterpiece Hamilton on Disney+ next week (It's not like I'm counting down the minutes or anything), Lin Manuel Miranda has revealed he is currently working on an upcoming Disney animated musical movie. The movie will be a collabration with the team behind Zootopia. LMM has form when it comes to Disney projects, having written songs for Moana, Mary Poppins Returns and the upcoming live-action remake of The Little Mermaid. I'm sure whatever he has up his sleeve will be worth the wait. In the meantime, there are less than 10,000 minutes to go until Hamilton is online.
In a heartwarming story this week, a star studded concert has been announced celebrating the 40 year career of a giant in the theatre world. In a surprising twist though, this giant isn't someone on the stage but rather someone at the stage door. Harry Gabriel has worked at the Shaftesbury Theatre for 40 years and has seen his fair share of legendary shows there such as Memphis, &Juliet , Hairspray, RENT and Motown.
The concert will feature songs and stories from his time at the theatre and will be available to stream on YouTube on July 15th at 7.30pm. It will be free to watch but will aim to raise funds for Cancer research UK, Black Lives Matter and The Black Curriculum. Some of the names taking part are Giles Terera, Judi Dench, Anthony Hopkins, Chita Rivera, Eddie Izzard, Imelda Staunton and Beverley Knight.
The Barn Theatre has announced details of some forthcoming virtual concerts. The series aims to celebrate British musical theatre writers. The fourth installment will be available on The Barn Theatres Facebook and YouTube channels from 7.30pm on Saturday 27th June and will celebrate the music of Stephanie Jayne Amies and Teddy Clements. Some of the names taking part in this stellar line up include Jodie Stelle, Hiba Elchikhe and Marcus Ayton.
The next concert in the series has been announced as a celebration of Annabel Mutale Reed on 11th July. The first three installments in the series are still available to watch.
A fundraiser has been launched to support Hackney Empire during these difficult times. The initiative is being spearheaded by actor Clive Rowe and hopes to raise £50,000 to help the iconic venue survive the uncertain future. The venue is set to celebrate its 120th birthday in 2021. You can help support by donating here.
The Hope Mill Theatre has announced 'An Evening with Jonathan Harvey' - a special celebration of the famed writer. Harvey is known for writing TV shows Gimme Gimme Gimme, Beautiful People and Coronation Street but is also a famed playwright, having written iconic play Beautiful Thing and musicals Closer To Heaven and Dusty - The Dusty Springfield Musical.
The celebration will take place on July 18th and will include an interview with Harvey hosted by Denise Welch and will also feature performances from Frances Barber and Katherine Kingsley as well as appearances from Olivia Colman and Layton Williams. Tickets to watch the event cost £10 and are available from www.hopemilltheatre.co.uk
In The Wings are continuing their series of pre-recorded concerts featuring songs from musicals that have been postponed due to the pandemic. This week is the turn of Gretel! The Musical. OIn the video posted you can watch a preview of one of the songs 'Dark Magic' sung by Hamilton star Aaron Lee Lambert. The full concert will be available tonight at 7.30pm on the In The Wings YouTube channel here https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCY7yjTa4yMJ4kZR4Dr7RotA
Don't forget it's another busy weekend of online theatre:
An encore performance of the almost unwatchable The Sound Of Music live is available on youtube.com/theshowsmustgoon tonight from 7pm for 48 hours
If you'd rather watch something decent, The Grinning Man premieres at 7pm on https://bristololdvic.org.uk/at-home
There are two more virtual performances of The Last Five Years tonight and tomorrow available at https://lwtheatres.co.uk/whats-on/the-last-five-years/
And National Theatre At Home have A Midsummer Nights Dream available until Thursday. Direct link below: