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.
FAREWELL TO STEPHEN SONDHEIM
Stephen Sondheim’s passing last Friday, at the age of 91, saw the news of it posted “above the fold” in the print edition of last Saturday’s New York Times:
As LA Times theatre critic Charles McNulty tweeted, “Above the fold, where he belongs. I can’t think of another theater artist in my lifetime who was above the fold.”My most substantial personal and professional encounter with him was when I interviewed him on the stage of the National Theatre in 2004, during their revival of A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO THE FORUM.
There’s a full transcript here: https://shentonstage.com/my-2004-interview-with-stephen-sondheim/
THAT WAS THE WEEK THAT WAS
My weekly round-up of my columns, reviews, and tweets of the week is here: including, of course, more reflections on the passing of Sondheim.
OMICRON: WILL SOLT AND UK THEATRE FINALLY ACT?
On Saturday, Boris Johnson held a press conference, at which he said that in response to the (as yet not fully known) threat posed by the Omicron variant of COVID, face coverings will become compulsory on public transport (which is already the case, but isn’t extensively enforced) and in shops.
But in the tweeted version of this announcement, it was specified: “Not including hospitality.”
So yet again theatres are promising to become superspreader events, should this variant arrive in any force on our shores. In which case, audiences will no doubt desert attending indoor spaces in droves. It is the perfect opportunity for SOLT and UK THEATRE to be PROACTIVE in securing the safety of its audiences by mandating mask wearing.
Andrew Lloyd Webber has already said to LBC’s Nick Ferrari that it would be a small price to pay to keep theatres open; but the astonishing timidity of SOLT and UK Theatre, and its near-total lack of leadership, means no one else is suggesting this.
I have repeatedly been advocating this since so-called “Freedom Day” when all restrictions on social distancing were dropped from theatres, since it would come at no financial cost or burden whatsoever on audiences.
If and when there is a renewed outbreak of life-threatening COVID cases, theatres may hurriedly seek to bring in containment measures; but by then it may well be too late. In which case, I would have zero sympathy for them.
TODAY’S THEATRE BIRTHDAYS
Theatre birthdays (NOV 29): Simon Amstell, 42; Julian Ovenden, 45 (pic: in South Pacific at Chichester Festival Theatre in 2021, returning to tour in 2022 including season at Sadler’s Wells); David Rintoul, 73
SEE YOU TOMORROW
See you in your inbox/here online tomorrow. But if you can’t wait that long, you can find me on Twitter @ShentonStage (though not as often on weekends)