One of the pleasures — but also the risks — of being a theatre critic is that you come first to a new production, ready to form your own opinions on what you’ve seen, before you’ve already encountered or digested the opinions of others.
Moulin Rouge! The Musical triumphed in 10 categories at the 74th Tony Awards, including being named Best Musical, but there was also British success, with Rob Howell and Hugh Vanstone winning awards for their design work on the Old Vic’s A Christmas Carol (5) and Stephen Daldry named Best Director for his staging of Matthew Lopez’s The Inheritance (4), originally at London’s Young Vic Theatre before its West End transfer.
I recently wrote to every major theatre chain in London to ask to see their COVID safety risk assessments and ventilation plans.
Last week saw Paula Vogel’s Indecent finally open officially at the Menier Chocolate Factory, a year and a half after previews had begun, for the UK premiere of Rebecca Taichman’s Tony-winning original production.
Although this newsletter officially remains on hiatus and will resume publication on Monday 20 September, I’m interrupting my time on the beach for a second time to deliver this bulletin with the reviews of Back To The Future that opened officially at the West End’s Adelphi Theatre on Monday.
American Actors Equity are requiring actors and crew to be fully vaccinated as a condition of work. Again, in the UK, SOLT and Equity are not requiring this. Regular testing is deemed sufficient.
A new touring stage version of the 1971 Disney film Bedknobs and Broomsticks held a national press night last Friday at Canterbury’s Marlowe Theatre, after previewing beforehand at Newcastle Theatre Royal. The tour is currently booking to May 2022.
Though theatres are now operating at full capacity (if they choose to) — and audiences are wearing masks only if they choose to, as well — there is a great deal of uncertainty, as performances are being routinely suspended at the very last minute if a cast member proves positive or has come into contact with someone who has.
There comes a point in every lifelong theatre lover’s career when you suddenly wake up and wonder: am I simply too old for this? Ben Brantley, former chief critic of the New York Times, hit this particular critical nail on the head when he ended his review of the 2018 Off-Broadway summer run of the cult musical Be More Chill (before it was propelled to Broadway in turn) by advising: “It may be helpful to think of this bounding, exhaustingly enthusiastic puppy of a show as the theatrical equivalent of one of those high-pitched dog whistles that only those under 25 can hear.”
Audiences go to the theatre for pleasure, not work; critics need to remember that their work is someone else’s pleasure.
The week began with Andrew Lloyd Webber being mentioned by Boris Johnson, as he extended the lockdown from the originally hoped-for ‘Freedom Day’ of 21 June to 19 July, at which point theatres may be able to reopen without social distancing in place;
In what is becoming a wearyingly predictable cycle, Boris Johnson’s latest failure to act fast enough to lockdown the country from the arrival of what is now known as the Delta variant of Covid, which originated in India, has resulted in it becoming the dominant strain of the virus in Britain — with the added problem that it is much more easily transmissible than previous strains.
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The post June 10: Should Covid passports be required to go to the theatre? first appeared on Shenton Stage.
The National Theatre has announced its programming until the start of next year with productions on all three South Bank stages as well as three major UK tours, two productions on Broadway, a return to cinemas, and a new feature film to be broadcast on television this autumn.
COVID has created unusual detours that producers and performers have been forced to navigate; and it has sometimes opened new doors in the process
No theatre owner or producer has done more to re-ignite the West End, both then in December and especially now in May, than the forever-tenacious, ever-energetic and resilient Nica Burns.
This weekly column keeps track of the shows that are coming back, or are newly being announced, as theatres start reopening from tonight (17 May) in London and at other theatres in the UK.
I’m unashamedly a friend and champion of the theatre; but I can never been a simple cheerleader for it, regardless of the circumstances or my connections with people in a show I’m seeing. As honest critics find out all too often, we’re loved when we love something we see; but that can quickly pivot to becoming the enemy when we don’t.
There’s hardly a more insistent ear worm of a song in all of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s ear-wormy repertoire than ‘Memory’, the breakout hit of his 1981 musical Cats, which last night celebrated the 40th anniversary of its premiere at the then New London Theatre (now itself renamed for Gillian Lynne, the choreographer whose work on the show ignited a revolution in global musical theatre, and accidentally created the West End’s first authentic dance-based musical).
As theatre next week starts to finally edge cautiously out of a full lockdown of over five full months, plus only very intermittent appearances in the nine months before that, the question arises will the audiences be there for it?