A fair bit of news has come out this week, not all of it positive unfortunately. While I try to focus on predominantly the more upbeat areas of theatre at the moment (as increasingly hard as it is becoming), some of the news that has come out needs to be acknowledged.
It's not all bad though - so with the tried and tested "Shit sandwich" method, the bad news is surrounded by the more joyful news!
Feinstein's/54 Below is a famed cabaret restaurant in New York City. Many of Broadway's elite come out to perform there, and a selection of them are being made online.
The season has already started and range from '54 Sings The Jonas Brothers' (May not be the most obvious musical theatre choice but I am a sucker for their music) to upcoming filmed concerts from Broadway legend Lea Salonga and our own West end darling Rachel Tucker.
The full programme is available at https://54below.com/54belowathome/
The Old Vic have announced a new title they will be streaming in the near future. Their recent production of 'Lungs' starred Claire Foy and Matt Smith. Next month they will reprise their roles to perform the piece in the empty theatre. Exact dates are to be confirmed but the Old Vic will be treating this like a proper performance, with 1000 tickets available for each one. Prices for the stream range from £10 to £65. All tickets will give you the same view - they will not be offering a restricted view filming from behind a pillar for the £10 ticket luckily. Cheek my pinned 'Dates for your diary' post' for the link when dates are confirmed.
Chichester Festival Theatre have announced that their production of Rodgers and Hammersteins South Pacific, which was due to run this summer, will now run from the 5th July until 28th August. This summer might be a write off for theatre but summer 2021 is looking positive at least.
Now on to the sad portion of the post. The last 24 hours have seen announcements of more postponements, but the saddest is the UK tour of The Phantom of the Opera which has been cancelled altogether. In a statement released today, Cameron Mackintosh and the Really Useful Group cited the uncertainty about the future of social distancing as the reason they have opted not to resume the tour. The tour had only played one date at Leicester Curve before having to close due to the pandemic. Dates had been expected atround the country over the next year.
It has also been announced that the planned first UK tour for Phantom sequel Love Never Dies, which was due to play in Leicester and Manchester in September and October, has been postponed. There are conflicting rumours whether it has been cancelled entirely but as it stands it looks like there are plans to stage it in 2021.
Selladoor worldwide have also announced that it is postponing all of its touring productions until 2021. Productions including 9 to 5, Bring It On, We WIll Rock You and Footloose will all have their dates pushed back.
Bring It On was due to play a season at the Southbank Centre later this year. That venue has now warned they may need to remain closed until Spring 2021.
The official date SOLT have issued for West end theatres to remain closed until is 28th June. Delfont Mackintosh, whose theatres currently are home to Dear Evan Hansen, The Book of Mormon, Hamilton and Les Miserables are not taking any bookings for shows until September 7th. An update from SOLT should be in the next week and will likely either officially extend the closure for another month until the end of July, or follow DMT's lead and extend the closure throughout summer.
With Broadway theatres closed until September 6th, it seems likely we will follow suit.
While we may be in for a wait for theatres, some around the world are getting creative with how they are can keep the industry alive. One theatre in Berlin is planning to reopen later this year with this reduced seating:
While it wouldn't be viable for most West end theatres as they couldn't survive on that capacity, it is something at least. Knowing that some theatres worldwide are opening their doors again gives me hope for the future.
While this is a dangerous time for the industry, the silver lining is this is a creative industry. With no shortage of creativity from the people running it, if there is a solution to getting theatre back quickly and safely, they are going to find it. Over the weeks I expect to see a lot more ideas of how theatres across the world are slowly getting back to what will have to be the new normal, at least temporarily. Some will fail, some will be laughable, but hopefully some will be successful enough and lead to us taking our seats in our favourite theatres in the not too distant future.
And to end on a positive note...
In case you missed my post about it yesterday, this weeks title for The Shows Must Go On streaming series is the 2016 production of Hairspray. Broadcast live on NBC in 2016, this star cast includes Kristin Chenoweth, Ariana Grande and Jennifer Hudson. Available for 48 hours from Friday at 7pm on youtube.com/theshowsmustgoon if you have had a challenging week (as so many of us are), 'You can't stop the beat' will never fail to put a smile on your face. If it does, you may want to check if your heart is still beating.
If Hairspray isn't your thing, there is no shortage of shows to watch on Friday. Allegiance starring Lea Salonga debuts on BroadwayHD, Beverley Knight is performing a Leave A Light On concert, and even Take That (They have a musical so technically it's relevant) are performing a concert live from their homes. Treat yourself to one of them and watch the worries of the week wash away!
Look out for my reviews of Allegiance and Hairspray this weekend - I will try to keep my fangirling of Kristin and JHud to a minimum but can't promise anything!