Today comes the latest announcement of a show delaying its return due to Covid 19, with Whoopi Goldberg announcing to legions of disappointed fans that she will not be able to join the company of Sister Act when it returns to London in 2022. The show, already delayed from 2020, had been scheduled for a return in 2021, but uncertainty over restrictions and the rollout of vaccines to the wider population means that producers have had to take the heartbreaking decision to schedule a further postponement.
The new dates of 19 July-28 August 2022 mean that Goldberg, 65, can no longer reprise the role of Deloris Van Cartier at the Eventim Apollo, Hammersmith. The announcement was made via social media and reads as follows:
Several shows have recently pushed back their opening or reopening dates due to ongoing uncertainty over the pandemic, including Anything Goes at the Barbican Theatre which will star Megan Mullally and Robert Lindsay which will now begin previews in June 2021, a month later than originally scheduled, and Frozen which will now open at the newly refurbished Theatre Royal Drury Lane some time in late 2021. The spring opening of new Andrew Lloyd Webber musical Cinderella is still scheduled to begin previews on 30 April 2021, but whether that date will happen is anyone’s guess!
An announcement on a timescale to ease lockdown is scheduled to be made on 22nd February, with an anticipated return of schools some time the following month. Theatres will inevitably be one of the later returns because of the difficulty of socially distancing on a grand scale. No big, costly productions, such as major musicals, can realistically open until social distancing is removed – the maths just won’t work. For the likes of Hamilton, which could probably afford to run at a slight loss for a short period knowing that it will eventually recoup once things return to normal, that might be okay, but for a brand new, untried production like Cinderella, that might just be a risk too far. For that reason, a delayed re-opening might turn out to be a more financially sound decision. That would be disappointing for audiences, but even more of a blow to the enormous number of performers, freelancers, and theatre staff with jobs depending on a date for re-opening.
We’re all hoping that Sister Act’s announcement isn’t a sign of things to come – with the vaccine rollout gathering pace, hopefully the coming weeks will bring much better news for our beloved theatres!