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Andrew Lloyd Webber Continues Efforts To Reopen Theatres

Andrew Lloyd Webber Continues Efforts To Reopen Theatres
By Michelle Sciarrotta

Andrew Lloyd Webber is continuing to work towards the reopening of theatres by partaking in scientific efforts. Working alongside peers and government institutions alike, Webber will contribute to the ongoing research on social distancing in the theatre. 

Webber’s Efforts

In August, Lord Webber announced on Twitter that he had volunteered himself for the Covid-19 vaccine trial, stating he would “do anything to get theatres large and small open again and actors and musicians back to work.”

Through the pandemic lockdown period, Webber has also participated in trial theatre performances in order to test social distancing and safety, as well as making a generous financial contribution to hygiene provisions.

Additionally, a 9-performance a week production of Jesus Christ Superstar: The Concert has been running at the Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre with socially distanced seating numbers selling out more often than not.

New Research

A committee meeting held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) will be held on 8th September to discuss the potential for reopening live events at capacity. Renowned composer Webber will be in attendance to contribute evidence as an advocate for reopening safely without social distancing measures. The UK’s Culture Secretary, Oliver Dowden has remained firm in his previous suggestions that this is unlikely to happen before the end of 2020.

What Are Other Theatres Doing?

Sleepless the musical reopened in London, receiving positive reviews that praised both the performance and the experience of socially distanced theatre. Clive Davis from The Times recounted:

“We had to wear masks, and staff took our temperature. Still, all the safety procedures in the world couldn’t dampen the excitement. Morgan Young’s handsome production — built around songs by the British duo of composer Robert Scott and lyricist Brendan Cull — strips away the cloying sentimentality of the film and delivers a string of stylish, jazzy numbers that have all the poise of a Cy Coleman-Carolyn Leigh collaboration.”

While some West End shows have announced plans to reopen as soon as possible with dates before the year is out, other companies have found new ways around the uncertainty and restrictions.

The new Diana musical that was due to open on Broadway in March this year will now be launched on Netflix. Inspired largely by the epic and ongoing success of Hamilton drawing most of the world to Disney+, this move could indeed prove to be a positive outcome for the industry amidst challenging times. In case you missed it, Hamilton was the ‘most-watched’ show on any streaming platform during July.

The filming of Diana will take place at the Longacre Theater on Broadway and will be released on Netflix in early 2021. If restrictions allow, the live show is scheduled to open on Broadway on 25th May.

As reported in Forbes, Executive Director of Actors’ Equity Association Mary McColl spoke about the process for composing a safety plan for Diana, stating:

“Much of the work that Equity staff is currently doing involves collaborating with producers on health and safety protocols. Now comes the hard part—taking a safety plan from the page and putting it into practice. The work to provide the safest workplace possible in this environment will require everyone to work together, from the employer to every employee.”

While times are still uncertain and it’s all too easy to feel pessimistic about the entertainment industry’s future, it’s reassuring to see those in positions of influence such as Webber practicing what they preach, working towards progress in a post-pandemic world.

Likewise, with theatre moving to streaming platforms it’s providing some comfort to know that we are not stuck in an artless black hole; with companies becoming inventive and creative it provides much-needed hope, and of course employment to production cast and crew, as well as the Netflix team. Perhaps we will see more of this until we get back to normal, and if Hamilton is anything to go by, that will be a very welcome outcome.

Also by Michelle Sciarrotta:

UK Live Music Scene Has First Outdoor Gig & Plans To Reopen Venues

Alice Smart: Interview with a London based Costume Constructor

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