Our collective hearts sank at the news that a number of major theatre productions will not return to the West End until 2021. But you won’t have to wait until next year for a dose of Lloyd-Webber. Regent’s Park Open Air theatre is planning to reopen in August with an outdoor concert production of ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’.
The nature of the venue puts it in a better position to enforce social-distancing measures than tightly packed indoor theatres. To keep punters safe, seating for the production has been dramatically reduced to 390 (that’s just 30 percent of the usual capacity), and there will be a one-way system in place. Face masks will be mandatory for ticket holders as well as staff.
William Village, the theatre’s executive director, said that putting these safety measures in place for such a large-scale show has been ‘extremely challenging’ from an economic perspective, as the theatre is an unfunded organisation. He added, ‘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 reopen this year, and we’re delighted to announce this special concert staging of our award-winning production of “Jesus Christ Superstar”.’
‘Jesus Christ Superstar: The Concert’ will run from August 14 to September 27 with 70 performances, Tuesdays to Sundays. To make the most of its reopening, the theatre is putting on a bunch of comedy nights on the Jesus-free Mondays. Rob Beckett, Russell Brand, Jimmy Carr, Kerry Godliman, Judi Love and Canned Laughter (a group which holds comedy fundraisers for London’s food banks) will all be a part of what the theatre is calling MOREoutdoor Mondays.
Regent’s Park is not the only theatre with a production lined up for the summer. A musician adaptation of the movie ‘Sleepless in Seattle’, ‘Sleepless’, starring Girls Aloud’s Kimberley Walsh is due to start at the Troubadour in Wembley Park on August 25, and Andrew Lloyd Webber is working on a pilot scheme with the government that would allow socially distanced audiences to return to the London Palladium. On August 2, the Donmar Warehouse will open its socially distanced sound installation ‘Blindness’, adapted from the dystopian novel by José Saramago. And just this morning, culture secretary Oliver Dowden announced on social media that ‘indoor performances in theatres, music halls and other venues’ will be permitted from August 1. Who knows? Maybe we could see a partial West End reopening in 2020 after all.
Booking for ‘Jesus Christ Superstar: The Concert’ opens on Tue Jul 21 here.
London theatres given green light to reopen in August.
Not ready to sit in a live theatre audience? The final instalment of the NT at Home plays, ‘Amadeus’, is available to stream now.