West End musicals: Social distancing shows reveal plans to reopen


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Eleanor Howarth

Six the Musical will be at the Lyric Theater in London from November 14

Everyone’s talking about Jamie and Six will become the first musicals returning to the West End in mid-November, eight months after the curtain falls.

They will take the stage three weeks after a series of non-musical performances reopen London’s theater district.

The Play That Goes Wrong, The Mousetrap by Agatha Christie, and This Is Going To Hurt by Adam Kay will all admit a socially distant audience in October.

Site managers said “robust risk mitigation” would be in place.

They include reduced capacities, contactless tickets, temperature testing and deep cleanings, as well as hand sanitizers, face coatings, and tracking and traceability.

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Everybody’s Talking Jamie will be back at the Apollo Theater on November 12

The producers of Six, the hit show about the wives of Henry VIII, will take a separate cast for The Lowry in Salford from the end of November.

The musical was slated to be presented in the 450-seat Quays Theater in Greater Manchester at Christmas, but will move into the complex’s 1,700-seat Lyric to accommodate all ticket holders while ensuring social distancing.

The queens will hit Salford two weeks after returning to the West End at another Lyric Theater – on Shaftesbury Avenue – on November 14.

“We are in the process of reconfiguring all of the stalls to be absolutely social distancing,” Nica Burns, director of Nimax Theaters, told BBC Breakfast.

Promising more legroom as a positive consequence of the new setup, she added: “We are removing some of the lines. We are confident that we will be able to keep this place safe for our audience. “

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The Apollo was covered on tape as part of the Live Theater Missing campaign in July

Most of the shows that have announced their plans to reopen so far will be staged in Nimax venues.

Everybody’s Talking Jamie will resume at the Apollo on November 12, but the group’s biggest production – Harry Potter and the Cursed Child at the Palace – won’t return until at least February.

“You can’t open a great show with social distancing,” Burns said. “These shows are very, very expensive and you just can’t meet your weekly costs. So we have to make smaller shows. ”

The company said it will operate at a loss after the holiday program ends at the end of October.

“We have looked at the financial and human cost of large-scale layoffs,” a statement said. “We preferred to allocate the potential sums of redundancies to employment rather than unemployment. ”

The Nimax plans will save 355 jobs. Meanwhile, Six producers said the two productions in London and Salford would account for 100 jobs.

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Media legendBackstage at the Arts Theater in London to meet the sassy women in the life of King Henry VIII

One of the producers, Kenny Wax, asked for government insurance news and a date to greet the public without social distancing.

“We desperately need information on a government-backed insurance system that would allow larger shows to open,” he told BBC Breakfast.

“This is one of the answers, and the second is the crucial thing, which is the fifth step of [Culture Secretary] Oliver Dowden’s five-point plan, which is not social distancing. It’s those two things that are going to reopen the entire West End, which of course is boosting tourism and the economy. ”

A handful of theaters have already reopened, including the Troubadour in Wembley, north London, where a musical based on the film Sleepless In Seattle had its world premiere in August.

But Andrew Lloyd Webber recently told MPs it was economically “impossible” to run theaters with social distancing, while fellow theater manager Sir Cameron Mackintosh said in June that shows such as Hamilton, Les Miserable, Mary Poppins and The Phantom of the Opera wouldn’t. return to the West End until 2021.

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