ShentonSTAGE Daily for Monday December 6

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Welcome to today’s (delayed!) edition of ShentonSTAGE Daily that is e-mailed to subscribers every morning (to subscribe, send message to, and is also available online here.


My weekly THAT WAS THE WEEK THAT WAS round-up of my columns and tweets of the last week on theatre in London, the regions and Broadway, as well as birthdays and passings (including Stephen Sondheim, pictured below) is here:


My reviews of THE LIFE OF PI (Wyndham’s), THE VALKYRIE (London Coliseum), RARE EARTH METTLE (Royal Court) and the new touring version of the 70s sitcom THE GOOD LIFE (Chichester Festival Theatre, pictured below) is here:


As previews began for Moulin Rouge a few weeks ago, the production led the charge in insisting on mask wearing by audiences, not merely recommending them. In a statement at the time, it 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”.

But it appears not to have been enough to keep the company safe after all. After performances last Friday and Saturday were cancelled, another announcement was made on Saturday cancelling tonight and tomorrow’s performances, too.

Later the same day, the show’s press representatives David Bloom and Lewis Jenkins wrote to critics later that day to inform them,

“As you may have seen yesterday, Moulin Rouge! The Musical had to cancel performances for last night and both shows today, due to cases of Covid throughout the company. nUnfortunately today, there have been further cases and as a result, performances now have to be cancelled through to Wednesday night, 8 December. This means that sadly both planned press performances (Tuesday 7 and Wednesday 8 December) will no longer take place.”

A revised schedule is still be announced; but this is increasingly becoming the “new normal” in theatre, where no schedules are certain anymore. 

This is, of course, an industry determined to stay open at all costs, after such an extended period of multiple closures.

But we also need to be realistic about the dangers and immediately lock down, when as with Moulin Rouge, quite a few of the cast test positive.

Last week, when Ireland brought in a new policy reintroducing social distancing in indoor settings so that theatres there are once again capped at 50% attendance, I tweeted this:


I immediately found myself challenged by a theatrical casting director, who tweeted this extremely personal attack in a deliberate attempt to undermine me, to which I duly replied:

He then incidentally changed his twitter bio profile to say: “In denial — Mark Shenton”. So he was wearing my tweet as some kind of badge of honour. But I’m absolutely fine about losing the love of industry players like him. 

As it happens, Boris Johnson is extremely unlikely to follow Ireland’s lead, as he seems determined that the country has a ‘normal’ Christmas — whatever the consequences.

According to TIm Shipman in yesterday’s Sunday Times, “The government will formally review its plans on December 18. Officials expect to start receiving the key data which will define that response from around December 13, with another critical review likely on January 8. After a difficult year, Johnson could not help but let his frustration show when the full cabinet met on Tuesday, where he proclaimed the new variant ‘a complete pain in the neck’.” 

Theatre producers up and down the land will, no doubt, be holding their breaths — and more — on December 18.

The new stage musical version of the 1993 film Mrs Doubtfire opened on Broadway last night — after a 609 day pandemic-induced delay. It had completed just three previews in March 2020 when the curtain came down on Broadway, and the show was duly suspended. There’s a reviews round-up here (via; its lead producers are Kevin McColllum and Britain’s young(ish) touring producer Jamie Wilson, so it already has its UK opening lined up next September at Manchester Opera House, ahead of the West End (one assumes).

Will the lukewarm New York reviews matter to its future prospects, either on Broadway or especially in the UK? By the time the show gets here, those reviews will be largely forgotten; the same may be true of the show itself on Broadway (one critic suggested that he’d likely forget having seen it entirely within three months; I saw it myself a couple of weeks ago, and can confirm this).

But this is the kind of musical that trades on the affection of the audience for a beloved film that they want to see recreated on stage, so critics hardly matter; what does, though, is an audience’s willingness to pay Broadway prices to see a re-tread of a film they can watch for free as an inflight movie somewhere or late night TV channel. Also, you don’t get Robin Williams onstage; but you DO get Rob McClure, one of the funniest physical comedy musical actors on Broadway since Norbert Leo Butz, as he demonstrated in two misfires, Chaplin and Hollywood in Vegas, and the better-performing Beetlejuice (itself returning to New York soon, after it was forced out of the Winter Garden Theatre to make way for The Music Man; obviously McClure is no longer available to return to it). 


Theatre birthdays (DEC 3): Andrew “Freddie” Flintoff, 44 (pic: in FAT FRIENDS THE MUSICAL, with Jodie Prenger in 2018); Tom Hulce, actor/producer, 68; Elliot Levey, actor, 48 (pictured: in SNOWFLAKE at Kiln Theatre in 2019)

See you in your inbox or here tomorrow. But if you can’t wait that long, you can find me on Twitter @ShentonStage (though not as often on weekends)