Welcome to today’s edition of ShentonSTAGE Daily that is e-mailed to subscribers every morning (to subscribe, send message to ShentonStageMailingList@gmail.com), and is also available online here.
For the next week, this newsletter is reaching you from New York, where I arrived on Tuesday for my first visit in over two years! (my first view from my cab is below, with a glorious sunset laid on to greet me!)
MY LONG RELATIONSHIP WITH NEW YORK….
This is the longest time I’ve been absent from the city since my first visit in 1983, at the end of my first year at University. I was immediately smitten — and would return at least annually, until my first job after graduating was for the West End theatre advertising agency Dewynters, who represented some Broadway shows, and even set up an office here.
That started bringing me out for work — and the company also had a New York apartment on 37th and 6th that I was allowed to use on work and private visits, too — so I started feeling ‘at home’ here. Ever since, I’ve considered NYC my home from home — establishing a strong network of local friends, and eventually realising my own dream to actually be to call it an actual home, when my husband and I bought a small apartment in Hell’s Kitchen (two blocks from Wicked!) in 2012, the same year we got married in Central Park!
So the physical pain of seeing New York suffer as it became the epicentre of the pandemic when it first hit America in early 2020 was very tough — and Broadway, of course, famously shut down in its entirety for the worst part of 18 months, the longest in its history.
But starting in September, Broadway has started returning – and this week, I was able to finally return myself when the Biden administration finally lifted the Trump-imposed ban on all visiting Europeans, except for strict business and/or political exemptions (that strangely included allowing Nigel Farage in by Trump).
And after three nights on (and off) Broadway, during which time I’ve already seen four shows — two on, two off Broadway — I can confirm that I’ve never felt safer.
COVID SAFETY: BROADWAY VS UK
FULL vaccination is required as a condition of entry to any indoor theatre, and it is thoroughly checked on entry against photo ID; and mask wearing is mandatory at all times. (As shown on the signs as you enter Studio 54, where CAROLINE, OR CHANGE, is playing — see below)
This, of course, is the way to do it — it’s not a question of personal choice or personal responsibility, but a rule, pure and simple. If you don’t abide by it, you can’t enter.
And this, too, is where SOLT and UK Theatre have failed so abysmally to provide any leadership. Instead of making “recommendations” urging theatregoers to wear masks, it should have made it a POLICY.
For all the deferring of responsibility to government — with Boris Johnson’s administration failing to follow the mandates imposed by the Scottish and Welsh governments for continued compulsory mask-wearing in indoor venues in England — SOLT and UK Theatre could, and should, have insisted that masking continue.
No wonder that Peter Marks, theatre critic of the Washington Post, was utterly baffled — and appalled — by what he experienced during a recent fortnight spent in the UK. As he reported in a column yesterday,
MOULIN ROUGE AND CABARET SET THEIR OWN RULES
In the absence of any leadership from SOLT, it is now up to individual producers to manage the safety of their audiences and actors themselves.
Yesterday The Stage reported, “Audiences watching Moulin Rouge! The Musical will be required to wear a mask as a condition of entry, marking what is thought to be the first West End production to make the measure mandatory. In a statement to The Stage, a spokesman for the show – which will open at the Piccadilly Theatre later this month – said: “Ambassadors Theatre Group and the producers of Moulin Rouge! The Musical are asking all audience members to wear masks when attending performances at the Piccadilly Theatre, in order to keep the production company and audiences safe. This policy will be reviewed on an ongoing basis.”
And ticket buyers who are attending the new production of Cabaret that begins performances at the Playhouse Theatre on Monday, have been contacted to inform them that they will require proof of a current negative lateral flow or PCR test to be admitted:
TODAY’S THEATRE BIRTHDAYS