Beleaguered London theatres have finally begun to open again, after another an extended dark period. Despite the best efforts of Theatre owners, led by the heroic Nica Burns, to open at the end of 2021, venues were forced to close when a second wave of Covid-19 swept the UK in Autumn/Winter.
Now spring is here (although someone needs to tell the weather!) and hope has returned to the West End. The first show to re-emerge, like a mouse nervously peeping out from behind the skirting board, was The Mousetrap. Agatha Christie’s classic thriller, favourite of tourists seeking a slice of old-fashioned British charm with their serial killers, now re-opens with two alternating ‘all star’ casts. Stars appearing include Olivier Award winner Cassidy Janson alongside Strictly Come Dancing finalist Danny Mac. You can see Cassidy Janson and Danny Mac speaking to Broadway World here.
Very helpfully, WhatsOnStage.com has produced a rolling list of show openings so you can keep an eye on what’s opening when. We’re particularly excited to see the return of Everybody’s Talking About Jamie to the Apollo Theatre and the dragtastic Death Drop opening at the Garrick Theatre. However, many shows are choosing to hedge their bets by setting opening dates in June, July, August and even as late as October in the case of Dear Evan Hansen. There are some major big-budget shows on the way and producers must be more than a little nervous. Frozen, Back to the Future, Cinderella, Get Up Stand Up!, Moulin Rouge are just a few of the shows which will rely on being able to open to full capacity audiences. And that could be a problem, because while we now have effective vaccines, we also have new variants to deal with.
But variants aren’t the only problem for producers. Around 10% of theatregoers still express a nervousness about returning to full theatres before 2022. On top of that, tourism is unlikely to resume at anything like pre-covid levels for at least another 6 months. Those two factors alone could be enough to see a show sink or swim. On the other hand, if UK holidaymakers choose not to vacation overseas, we might see a domestic market ‘bounce’ as Brits with money to spend choose to staycation.
The weeks ahead will be exciting and will give us a better idea of what might happen next. But, like the characters in The Mousetrap, West End producers might also find themselves wondering who’s first for the chop! Until then, lets stay optimistic. Live Theatre is back and whatever happens next, seeing audiences back on Shaftesbury Avenue makes our hearts feel glad.