July was a rollercoaster ride with ups and downs for theatre - sometimes in the same day. From the news of open air theatre getting the go ahead to cancellations to Phantom closing to opening to closing to God knows where we even landed with that one.
But we are now in a new month. Who knows what August will have to offer in terms of theatre news. Hopefully a lot of good news. But what we do know is this month there is a lot to look of theatre to look forward to, some online but also this month some of it in person.
With that in mind, here are some of the highlights for theatre in August:
The first indoor theatre in London is due to open its doors on August 25th for the world premiere of Sleepless, a new musical based on the timeless Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan movie Sleepless In Seattle. Originally previewed for 3 performances at the Troubadour Theatre in Wembley Park in December, the show was due to open for a limited run in March this year before the global pandemic came and saw that couldn't happen.
Better late than never - the show is now opening later this month with a brand new socially distanced seating plan at the venue. As it stands, indoor theatres are allowed to open from August 15th but there is a chance the government will issue a further delay on that date. Let's hope not as a brand new musical is just what the doctor ordered for all of us theatre fans.
The show stars Kimberley Walsh and Jay McGuinness, reuniting after recently appearing in an adaptation of another Tom Hanks movie, BIG. Other safety measures will be in place at the venue including temperature checks and face coverings must be worn during the performance.
Tickets start from £15 and are available from https://sleeplessthemusical.com/
One of the highlights of the July was the announcement of a concert version of Open Air Theatre's critically acclaimed production of Jesus Christ Superstar. Organised with impressive speed after being given the go ahead for outdoor performances, it was a breath of fresh air for fans of the stunning venue in Regents Park who has already seen their entire 2020 season postponed to 2021.
The show opens on Friday 14th August enjoying a limited run until September 27th. but still squeezing in a whopping 9 performances a week. Seating in the venue has been reduced to just 300 per performance down from 1,256.
Because of the show schedule, the decision has been made to have two cast members play each role though the cast for each performance will not be announced in advance to allow for flexibility. Cast members from previous years of the production will be returning and the line up is seriously impressive. The role of Jesus will be shared between Declan Bennett and Pepe Nufrio, Tyrone Huntley and Ricardo Afonso will share the role of Judas, Anoushka Lucas and Maimuma Memon will share the role of Mary. Further casting incluces Ivan De Freitas, David Thaxton and Cedric Neal.
Tickets have been selling like hot cakes (or whatever the Biblical equivalent is) but there are still some available starting from £25 at https://openairtheatre.com/
Jesus is having a day of rest on Monday (Shouldn't it be Sunday?) so that means Open Air Theatre are having a variety of different shows for MOREOutdoor Mondays. Each week, a different show or person will take to the lineup of predominantly comedians. There is a bit of theatre though in the shape of Mischief Theatre.
The team responsible for The Play That Goes Wrong, The Comedy About A Bank Robbery and Magic Goes Wrong will be bringing back their Mischief Movie Night for two performances on Monday 31st August. The genre, location and title are suggested by the audience and the show is made up on the spot.
All tickets cost £25 and are available from http://openairtheatre.com/production/mischief-movie-night
It's not just London that is being treated to a much needed dose of theatre this summer, outdoor theatres up and down the country are also throwing open their doors (if they have doors) to wow us with various productions. One such example is the beautiful Minack Theatre in Cornwall who are opening for a whole season of shows, including Willy Russell's Educating Rita.
The show stars Stephen Tompkinson and Jessica Johnson and opens on August 8th, running until August 30th. Performances will take place with social distancing measures and will last 110 minutes without an interval.
Tickets start from £10 but are almost sold out. Available from https://www.minack.com/whats-on/willy-russells-educating-rita
The Barn Theatre in Cirencester has been entertaining us throughout lockdown with their online programming including their "The Barn Presents" series celebrating British musical theatre writers. Now they have gotten the go ahead to open, they have jumped at the chance and created a whole Outdoor theatre festival.
Barnfest has already started and continues until September 5th. The line up includes Funny Gals performed by Vikki Stone and Natasha Barnes, and The World Goes Round, a celebation of the works of Kander and Ebb.
Full programming and tickets available from https://barntheatre.org.uk/performances
Another festival taking place is The New Normal, aptly named after everything we thought was normal going out of the window this year, the festival takes place in Wandsworth from 3rd to 31st August.
Improv, comedy and magic are all present with shows from the incredible Showstopper!, Mischief Movie Night and Britain's Got Talent finalist Ben Hart..
Full programming and tickets available from https://newnormalfest.co.uk/whats-on
Chichester Festival Theatre are known for having some of the best theatre, often premiering before the West end such as the recent revival of Half A Sixpence. This year they are producing a movies and music weekend over the Bank Holiday weekend.
Taking place from August 28th, the weekend culminates with an open air concert on Monday August 31st. Omid Dijalili will introduce songs from the musicals performed by Gin Beck, Gabrielle Brooks, Rob Houchen, Julian Ovenden and Giles Terera. Expect songs from Wicked, West Side Story, the Sound of Music and My Fair Lady. You may even get a bit of Fiddler on the Roof from Omid.
Tickets are on sale from https://www.cft.org.uk/movies-and-music-weekend
Taking place this month are the West End Musical Drive In concerts. Taking place in Enfield, there are two concerts this month on Saturday 8th and Saturday 29th August.
The concert on Saturday 8th starts at 14.45 and features John Owen Jones, Sophie Evans and Oliver Saville. The show on the 29th is ab it later, starting at 18.30 and stars Layton Williams, Trevor Dion-Nicholas, Shan Ako and Maiya Quansah-Breed.
Tickets are available from https://www.westendmusicaldrivein.co.uk/
A brand new open air theatre is launching in London this month. The Garden Theatre opens in Kennington with a revival of Fanny and Stella directed by Steven Dexter with musical staging by Nick Winston.
The show runs from August 3rd to August 25th and will star Kinky Boots' Jed Berry and The Sound Of Music's Kane Verrall.
Social distancing rules will be applied in the theatre with all audience members required to wear face masks. Tickets can be purchased from http://fannyandstellamusical.com/
For one night only this month, experience a bit of Sondheim in London as Opera Holland Park is the home of a concert version of A Little Night Music.
The cast will be led by Janie Dee and Joanna Riding with Sharif Afifi, Hiba Elchikhe, Danielle Fiamanya, Fra Fee, Hilary Harwood, Emma Kingston, Emma Harrold, Nadim Naaman, Laura Pitt-Pulford, Ella Tronson and Kayi Ushe completing the cast.
The show will take place on Saturday 15th August at 6pm. Social distancing measures will be carried out throughout the performance with actors, crew and audience all distanced throughout. Only 200 seats will be available for the performance.
Tickets to go on sale at midday on Monday 3rd August.
It's not all about physical theatre this month as there are still some great titles to enjoy streaming throughout August. Here are a couple of highlights:
A new concert production celebrating the 50th anniversary of Stephen Schwartz's Godspell will stream for three nights from August 27th to 29th.
The concert will feature Ruthie Henshall and Darren Day reprising their roles from the 1993 production of the show as well as Sam Tutty, Jenna Russell, Jodie Steele, Danyl Johnson and Ria Jones.
The concert will be filmed in isolation with each performer filming their parts at their respective homes. The recent production of The Last Five Years has proven you can still have an amazing show even when the cast are filmed seperately.
Tickets cost £15 and can be purchased from https://hopemilltheatre.co.uk/. All proceeds from ticket sales will go towards the Hope Mill Theatre, Acting For Others and the National AIDS Trust.
Waitress stars Lucie Jones and David Hunter are reuniting on stage at the Phoenix Arts Club for one night only.
The concert will be streamed live on Sunday 23rd August at 5pm and will feature the pair singing songs from the now sadly closed show as well as their own varied careers.
Tickets cost £20 for the concert or £35 for VIP tickets featuring a Zoom afterparty with the stars. Available from lambertjackson.co.uk
Looks like it's going to be a pretty good month for theatre. And who knows what else is still to be announced both virtually and physically?