After weeks of speculation, rumours and not-always-helpful government interventions, some proper good news for Theatreland. Nica Burns’s Nimax Theatres are set to reopen all six of their West End venues, starting next month.
Initially this will be with limited-run, low-tech shows designed to offer a dry run for the buildings’ abilities to operate under social distancing rules. But in an interview with Burns in yesterday’s Sunday Times, it was stated that West End mainstays ‘Everybody’s Talking About Jamie’ and ‘The Play That Goes Wrong’ will be back on our stages in November.
This is excellent news, although it’s worth saying that at time of writing, none of these shows have official dates. However, in a major boost to musical theatre, sassy smash ‘Six the Musical’ – about the wives of Henry VIII – will have a limited season at the Lyric Theatre, Nov 14-Jan 31, with tickets on sale this Friday.
Also confirmed is comic and doctor Adam Kay’s acclaimed solo piece about working for the NHS ‘This Is Going To Hurt’ which will run at the Apollo Theatre Oct 22-Nov 8, with tickets now on sale. And ‘Jamie’ stans should be heartened by the fact ‘This Is Going To Hurt’ is running at the hit musical’s home - it suggests getting the Apollo up and running is a priority.
However, we’re told that the next fortnight will see a full rundown of what’s happening when. It sounds like ‘Magic Goes Wrong’ will also return soon too, with the only current Nimax show ruled out being ‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child’, which is apparently too big, complicated and expensive to work in a socially distanced production.
Indeed the socially distanced shows that will be returning won’t make any money - but their takings should be enough to keep Nimax staff employed when furlough ends, a stated major aim of reopening before social distancing ends. (This announcement would suggest a level of scepticism regarding Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden’s suggestion that a non-socially-distanced Christmas season might be possible).
Note that we would advise a certain amount of caution before booking for any of Nimax’s long-runners: although you can still technically buy tickets to ‘Jamie’ et al, they have not been formally confirmed as returning, and will likely have different dates and drastically different seating plans to what’s currently on sale (although Nimax would surely sort you out for a proper date).
Nonetheless: this is very good news, and for once it sounds like there’s more good news to come.