NEWS: Covid testing begins backstage at Sleepless Musical as new casting announced

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SLEEPLESS, A Musical Romance, which announced last month it would begin socially distanced indoor performances at the Troubadour Wembley Park Theatre from 25 August until 27 September 2020, will begin using a new accurate Covid-19 test on cast, musicians, crew and theatre staff on a daily basis during rehearsals and the run of the show.

The test is called FRANKD (Fast, Reliable, Accurate, Nucleic-based Kit for Covid-19 Diagnostic Detection). Testing will be carried out on-site, since the FRANKD technology does not require a laboratory. Tests results will be sent directly to crew, cast and staff phones via a secure app within an hour of a swab being taken.

Michael Rose and Damien Sanders, on behalf of Encore Theatre Productions, the producers of SLEEPLESS, said:

“We are so excited to be leading the way for our industry and to be the first fully staged, indoor musical back up and running and we have been working around the clock to make it possible.

“Uppermost in our minds has been the safety of our cast and crew and this new fast and accurate technology from GeneMe allows us to lead the way once more with daily Covid testing of our cast and crew which can give everyone involved peace of mind and create a happy and safe working environment. This technology is currently being trialled by airports, government departments, sports teams and multinational companies in the UK and we are delighted to be the first to trial the system in the theatre and live event industry.”

The FRANKD test is a Nucleic Acid Amplification Test (NAAT), which is recommended by the WHO for testing for SARS-CoV-2. FRANKD has been shown to have 100% specificity and 97% sensitivity for detecting SARS-CoV-2 according to independent laboratory tests.

To streamline the process, tests can be securely assigned and results shared to people’s phones using a free ID app from Yoti, which is already producing digital ID cards for the NHS. The Yoti app is designed to protect people’s privacy, with the company unable to track people or share their data without their consent.

Carlos Candal, owner and CEO of Global Marketing Group (GMG) who put the GeneMe and Yoti teams together to bring this solution to market, said: “Having known about Yoti for some time, once I saw how they can work hand in hand with FRANKD to offer a solution for the Global theatre industry, I’m thrilled that SLEEPLESS will be the first to use the technology to help get theatres up and running again safely.’’

SLEEPLESS, A Musical Romance, based on the original story and screenplay of the romcom classic Sleepless in Seattle, will premiere at the Troubadour Wembley Park Theatre, London on 1 September 2020, with previews from 25 August. The limited season will run until 27 September 2020. Audiences will be socially distanced and the producers and venue will follow COVID-secure guidelines for cast, crew and audiences.

The producers are also holding a special NHS Gala, A Night for Sleepless Heroes, for NHS and Care workers on 27 August. Due to unprecedented demand, the performance is now full.

SLEEPLESS is a new musical with a book by Michael Burdette and music and lyrics by new British writers Robert Scott and Brendan Cull and will feature a 12-piece jazz orchestra. It was originally due to begin performances on 24 March 2020, prior to the UK Government shutdown of theatres.

Joining the previously announced Jay McGuiness as Sam and Kimberley Walsh as Annie will be Daniel Casey as Walter, Harriet Thorpe as Eleanor, Tania Mathurin as Becky and Jake Sharp as Rob. Also in the cast are Charlie Bull, Colin Burnicle, Christie-Lee Crosson, Laura Darton, Leanne Garretty, Matt Holland, Ross McLaren, Gary Murphy, Dominique Planter, Annie Wensak and Benjamin Wong. Theo Collis, Mikey Colville, Jobe Hart and Jack Reynolds will share the role of Jonah.

The spacious venue means that there will be no physical contact between the staff and audience at any time and that social distance measures can be strictly obeyed. Audiences will be temperature checked on entering the building and will be requested to wear face masks. All food and beverage orders will be contactless to minimise exposure, hand sanitiser will be available at multiple locations, and all areas of the venue will be thoroughly deep cleaned after each performance.

SLEEPLESS will be directed by Morgan Young (White Christmas, Elf, Big), with set design by Morgan Large, costume design by Sue Simmerling, lighting by Ken Billington, video design by Ian William Galloway, sound design by Simon Biddulph, orchestrations and arrangements by Larry Blank, musical supervision by Stuart Morley, musical direction by Chris Walker, orchestra management by Sylvia Addison for Music Solutions, wig and hair design by Richard Mawbey and casting by Sarah Bird CDG and Michael Donovan CSA.

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Press Releases on Twitter
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MyTheatreMates publishes a selection of daily press releases sent to us by publicists of the relevant show or theatre. We are not responsible for any inaccuracies contained within these materials.