Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre will be the first London theatre to welcome back audiences with a special concert staging of their production of Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Jesus Christ Superstar, running for six weeks from 14 August until 27 September 2020.
The venue capacity for the Open Air Theatre has been reduced to 390 seats, 30% of its usual capacity, with new social distancing safety protocols put in place, while 140 people, including 70 performers and freelancers, will be employed during the run.
Executive director William Village said: “Following the government’s announcement last week that outdoor theatres may re-open, we have been working around the clock to find a way to open in August and September this year. With social distancing, seating capacity has been dramatically reduced to 390 seats (down from 1,256). This makes producing any large-scale show economically extremely challenging, particularly as we are an unfunded organisation.
“Nevertheless, both for us as a venue, and the industry as a whole, we believe it is incumbent upon us to do everything possible to re-open this year, and we’re delighted to announce this special concert staging of our award-winning production of Jesus Christ Superstar.
“Of course, the safety of our audience, performers and staff remains of paramount importance to us. We will follow government guidance meticulously; measures to be introduced at the entirely open air venue include: reduced capacity, distanced performers, enhanced cleaning, one-way systems, mandatory face coverings, temperature checks, paperless and cashless systems and multiple hand sanitiser stations. All information will be set out clearly on our website and communicated with audiences in advance of their arrival.”
Artistic director Timothy Sheader added: “It has been, and continues to be, an incredibly challenging time for everyone working in the theatre industry. Whilst the arts sector awaits details of how the government’s support package will be disseminated, I’m heartened that we have been able to start work again with a number of our colleagues and to employ over 140 people including 70 performers and freelancers, at least for a brief period this summer. However, a clear and specific timeframe for the re-opening of the rest of our industry, together with the complete and safe removal of social distancing measures in all venues, remains critical to secure the future of the arts in the UK.”
Following two sell-out runs at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre (2016/2017), its original Olivier and Evening Standard Award-winning production of Jesus Christ Superstar played a season at the Lyric Opera of Chicago (2018), 60 dates at the Barbican Theatre (2019), and an ongoing hugely successful three year North American tour. Full casting information for the concert production will be announced in due course.
A series of one-off MOREoutdoor Mondays will also play throughout the run with comedy from Rob Beckett, Russell Brand, Jimmy Carr, Kerry Godliman, Judi Love and Russell Kane. Mischief Theatre, the company behind hits such as The Play That Goes Wrong, presents Mischief Movie Night, the improvised movie live on stage, and Berk’s Nest presents Canned Laughter, an all-star comedy fundraiser for London’s food banks, featuring Suzi Ruffell, Sindhu Vee, Olga Koch, Gabby Best and many more to be announced.