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?
It turns out New York is moving even faster, with the state (and its neighbours, New Jersey and Connecticut), according to the New York Times on Monday, “lifting almost all their pandemic restrictions, paving the way for a return to fuller offices and restaurants, a more vibrant nightlife and a richer array of cultural and religious gatherings for the first time in a year”.
Do we have to become responsible for our own Covid safety? So, the man who (allegedly) said he didn’t mind if the bodies were piled high, he didn’t want to impose another lockdown — until he, in fact, did — is now embarking on another experiment in which that may indeed turn out to be outcome. On 21 June, all social distancing is to be scrapped in the UK.
Now we’ve seen Cameron Mackintosh here in London twice in the last year throw his original investors overboard on his two biggest hits: Les Miserables and The Phantom of the Opera.
In London, there are murmurings of change on the horizon. Some of this may take a while to reach fruition, but three brand-new production companies have emerged in the last few weeks.
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The post April 27: The rotten stench of contempt for people, from the government to its people and from producers to their orchestras and audiences first appeared on Shenton Stage.
Jukebox musicals have become a staple of Broadway and the West End for a while now; familiarity, you could say, breeds contented audiences. As Mamma Mia! used to tag the show in their advertising: “You already know you’ve going to love it!”
This weekly column keeps track of the shows that are coming back, or are newly being announced, as theatres prepare to re-open from next month onwards. It will be updated weekly until such time as it becomes a reality, and from then on will provide a weekly update to that week’s openings and future ones.
When The Phantom of the Opera was unloaded from the Her Majesty’s Theatre last year, it produced the forlorn sight of the original Phantom chandelier resting on the pavement outside the theatre instead of poised over the proscenium from which it famously comes crashing down over the heads of those seated in the stalls.
On Monday, leaders of three American entertainment unions — SAG-AFRA, Actors’ Equity Association and the American Federation of Musicians Local 802 released a joint statement condemning workplace harassment, bullying and violent behaviour.
It’s peculiar that disabled arts and artists are yet to make a substantial cross-over, at least in British theatre. Yes, there was one happy incidence of this at the Donmar Warehouse, when gay disabled actor Daniel Monks starred in their production of Teenage Dick in 2019.
Mamma Mia! recently marked its 22nd anniversary in the West End (it premiered at the Prince Edward Theatre on 6 April 1999, subsequently moving twice — first to the Prince of Wales, and then its current home, the Novello).
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The post ShenTens: My Top 10 Favourite Regional Theatre Venues first appeared on Shenton Stage.
We are just over a month away from the cautious re-opening of indoor theatre venues from 17 May, which will restore theatres to their pre-lockdown condition last December of being able to operate at 50% capacity, up to a maximum of 1,000 people.
Meanwhile, I want to start keeping track of the shows that are coming back, or are newly being announced, in a new feature here that will be updated weekly until such time as it becomes a reality, and from then on will provide a weekly update to that week’s openings and future ones.
On Friday the resumption of theatre life began in New York; meanwhile, today is the 50th anniversary of the Broadway opening night of Stephen Sondheim’s Follies, his jagged and shattering tribute to the musicals as well as the marriages of yesteryear, as James Goldman’s characters confront their current predicaments as middle and old-aged people looking back on their lives through the prism of the nostalgia of their theatrical pasts — all set to a score that gently pastiches the songs of the period while actually improving on them.