Live performances return to Regent’s Park’s Open Air Theatre
- Credit: Archant
Staged concerts of Jesus Christ Superstar and comedy sets by Jimmy Carr and Russell Brand will play to a reduced capacity at the outdoor venue
Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre will become the first London theatre to stage live performances this summer including staged concerts of their acclaimed production of Jesus Christ Superstar.
August 14 kicks off a six week run of Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s biblical musical, as well as comedy sets by Jimmy Carr, Russell Brand, and Russell Kane.
On Mondays, Mischief Theatre, the company behind hits such as The Play That Goes Wrong, present an improvised movie for Mischief Movie Night.
And there’s an all-star comedy fundraiser for London’s food banks, featuring Suzi Ruffell, St John’s Wood comic Sindhu Vee, and Gabby Best.
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Seating has been cut to 30 percent of the usual capacity to ensure social distancing, and other safety measures include distanced performers, enhanced cleaning, one-way systems, mandatory face coverings, temperature checks, cashless systems and multiple hand sanitiser stations.
Artistic director Timothy Sheader, who directs Jesus Christ Superstar, was forced to delay his planned 2020 season until 2021 in the wake of the pandemic. He said 140 people, including 70 performers and freelancers, will be employed during the short season.
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“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 at least for a brief period this summer.
“However, a clear and specific time frame for the re-opening of the rest of our industry, together with the complete and safe removal of social distancing measures remains critical to secure the future of the arts in the UK.”
William Village, Executive Director said: “With social distancing, seating capacity has been dramatically reduced to 390 seats. This makes producing any large-scale show economically 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.”
The season runs until September 27. Bookings openairtheatre.com
Meanwhile, Highgate actress Juliet Stevenson lends her voice to the Donmar Warehouse’s socially distanced sound installation about the after effects of a global pandemic this August.
The Covent Garden venue will temporarily reopen from August 3-28 with Simon Stephens’ Blindness. Based on the dystopian novel by José Saramago, the hour-long ticketed installation will run four times a day and with visitors listening to an immersive sound design on headphones and sitting 2 metres apart in a transformed theatre.
Stevenson takes the part of the storyteller’s wife in a tale of a European city afflicted by an epidemic of infectious blindness.
The government tries to quarantine the contagion by herding the newly blind people into an empty asylum as the city descends into panic.
Face masks will be mandatory, bar areas will be closed and there will be a one-way system around the building, with thorough cleaning between each installation.
Artistic Director Michael Longhurst said: “Reading Simon’s version of Saramago’s extraordinary allegory about a government’s and society’s response to a pandemic, I knew this was a story we had to tell immediately. With indoor live performance not yet permitted, and social distancing measures reducing capacity, I am proud that the Donmar has risen to the challenge of producing work at this time. This immersive sound installation makes a virtue of these restrictions. Utilising Juliet Stevenson’s astonishing talent and binaural wizardry, it re-centres and celebrates this event as a non-visual experience. Our theatre has lain empty for so long, so I am delighted we can gather there for a unique and accessible experience after the isolation of Covid-19.”
Further details at donmarwarehouse.com