the theater industry, one of the most diverse sectors of the economy, has been COVID-19[feminine[feminine – beaten and spat out at the other end.
It’s not just the actors who count on opening theaters – the technicians, lighting and sound crews, producers, stage managers, box office staff, costume designers and hordes of others put on their careers in the industry, and with many of them, financial support was not easy to come by.
Suddenly there was one more hurdle for those who wanted to break into an industry that was already difficult to enter: uncertainty.
For Jack Holden, that meant taking matters into his own hands.
“During the first lockout last year, I woke up with a vision of what this show would be like,” he told Sky News of his first Cruise play.
It will be the very first show to open in London’s West End after it has closed – and will tell the story of a man diagnosed with HIV in the 80s, played by Holden, who aims to live out his final years in succumbing to a hedonistic lifestyle.
Holden wrote the show, teamed up with musician John Elliott, and sent a demo to also debuting theater producer Katy Lipson, who wanted it to happen.
The chance for a new playwright like Holden to get his show into a theater and in front of an audience, however, is not one he takes for granted.
“It’s been a horrible year, it almost destroyed our industry – the last year was really about survival,” he says, adding that theater owner Nica Burns has found a way to help new creatives get started. take advantage of the unique opportunity offered. to them during partial reopenings.
“This is the perfect opportunity for small productions and emerging creatives and producers to come and occupy this space… and I hope that we get a lot out of it and people see the ambition of shows like Cruise and that we don’t. let’s not limit ourselves. to a post-pandemic emergence. “
When it opens at the Duchess Theater, it will be flanked by Broadway marquees like Frozen, Mamma Mia, and Lion King, but they’ll stay closed for a bit longer, meaning the spotlight will be on Cruise.
“We need the Lion Kings and the Phantoms, and the Les Mis… but our theaters allow for smaller, more intimate and bolder things,” Nica Burns, co-owner of six West End theaters, told Sky News.
It has given the opportunity to new creatives to enter its theaters and show audiences that there is more to see beyond the great musicals.
Performance space in London comes at a price, but social distancing gives new, less established voices the ability to perform at a fraction of the cost, making their ideas a reality.
Ms Burns, however, says the industry was’ on hiatus’ last year, adding: ‘A lot of young people are cautious about coming back now … but I love that I can find something good out there. out of tough times. “
Her passion spawned the Rising Stars Festival, where she cedes her theaters to newer, never-before-seen shows – with business advice and financial support.
“What we’re doing is bringing out a whole generation of young producers… and without a producer, a show is just an idea… and that’s what all these young people are doing,” she said. .
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Senior producer Katy Lipson, who brings Holden’s work to life, says this is all “an incredible opportunity,” adding that she continues to pinch herself to make it really happen.
She told Sky News: “Sometimes that’s how new artists are discovered, people write and art imitates life, and I think we’re going to have some really courageous stories coming out of this crisis. , and it’s up to the producers. and artistic directors to encourage, find and support these artists.
“While we might see a bit of a slowdown for a little while, that will take over with a whole new generation of artists and performers. “
And while the industry appears healthy to move forward – the past 12 months have meant some changes need to be made.
Cameron Mackintosh, behind hit shows such as Les Misérables, Mary Poppins and Hamilton, last month defended his decision to reduce the size of Phantom Of The Opera’s 27-person orchestra to just 14.
He told The Telegraph: “I’ve had a terrible year trying to keep as many people as possible, but our job is to try to put together a show that can work and be brilliant.
” I am sorry? I’m sorry they’re upset, but I find it strange that musicians want to keep doing the same thing year after year. I think we shouldn’t have jobs as actors or musicians endlessly. is not the public service, we create art. “
But amid the uncertainty, the stages will slowly begin to light up over the next few weeks – giving actors, freelancers, technicians, creatives, front desk staff and audiences something to look forward to.
Alongside Cruise, shows like Six (a thrilling pop musical starring Henry VIII’s ex-wives as a girl group) and Everybody’s Talking About Jamie (the story of a Sheffield teenager who wants to be a drag queen) will be among the first shows. to reopen, as well as a concert version of the very popular Les Mis.
The cruise begins May 18 at the Duchess Theater in London and lasts four weeks.