That Was the Week That Was (June 20-26)

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The week’s theatre new, reviews, birthdays and more in tweets from London, the regions and Broadway

Andrew Lloyd Webber is indisputably good at writing a great tune. He is also even better at generating self-publicity: partly its thanks to the fact that the media act as a megaphone, amplifying his every utterance. And with a new show in the making, of course, he does both. We’ve already heard some of the great tunes from his new version of Cinderella (pictured above), released ahead of the first preview that took place on Friday evening; but we’ve also been hearing a lot of the noise he’s been making around if and when that show would open, after its originally planned early spring opening was derailed by the ongoing lockdown.

After Boris Johnson announced his “cautious, irreversible” roadmap out of lockdown back in February, Lloyd Webber took those ‘not before’ dates as fact that lockdown would actually end then, with all social distancing removed at Step Four, enabling him to re-open his theatres at full capacity, from June 21. And when Johnson was first reported to be reconsidering that date, Lloyd Webber — claiming he’d seen the data (“don’t ask me how”, he added), threatened to go ahead and open anyway, thus risking arrest, if that date was not adhered to, as I previously wrote about here.

Of course it was an idle threat: he wasn’t just exposing himself to the risk of arrest, but also his theatre staff, actors and even the audience who turned up and broke the law against mass gatherings. So he quickly had to back down. When Johnson extended an olive branch to allow Cinderella to open at full capacity as a test case, the kick-back on social media and elsewhere quickly saw him rejecting that proposal for him to get preferential treatment.

So he’s ended up doing what other producers have had to do, which is to open at 50% capacity — and cover the resulting losses himself. Of course, there’s no guarantee that they would have sold much more than 50% of the house anyway — seating plans online showed reams of unsold seats for early performances — so perhaps he’s had a face-saving rescue.

Meanwhile, in less prominent news, the returning production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (pictured above) has been forced to delay, this time not by changing government edict but because members of the cast have been forced to self-isolate during rehearsals after coming into contact with Covid, thus missing out rehearsal time.

All of which supports the caution that the government have brought to bear on not releasing the country on “Freedom Day”. as it was called; the situation on Joseph proves that there are still substantial risks around.

I’ve eagerly embraced the return of theatre in the last few weeks, but I’ve been relieved that it has continued to be socially distanced. I’m not so sure I’ll be rushing back to theatres quite so avidly once I’m forded to sit right beside someone whose vaccination status I have no idea about.

MY COLUMNS AND REVIEWS OF THE WEEK

  • Sunday June 20
  • Monday June 21
  • My tweets on THE DISTANCE YOU HAVE COME (at the Apollo Theatre tonight):

  • Tuesday June 22

My tweets on …and breathe (press performance at the Almeida yesterday):

  • Wednesday June 23
  • My tweet on a day of theatrical pleasure (seeing two shows NOT for review!)
  • Friday June 25
  • My review of J’Ouvert (Harold Pinter Theatre):
  • University of Chichester Conservatoire for Marriage a la Mode (a new musical):
  • Saturday June 26:

At National Theatre for Under Milk Wood (ps: no, that was NOT a writing desk in front of me provided because I’m a critic! I have no idea why they are dotted through the auditorium….)

  • At Turbine Theatre for My Son’s A Queer…. (please note: Rob Madge’s preferred personal pronouns are they/them. I incorrectly charactised Madge as he/him. Unfortunately Twitter does not allow you to edit tweets after sent; I apologised for my error).

OTHER REVIEWS OF THE WEEK

LONDON HEADLINES OF THE WEEK

REGIONAL HEADLINES OF THE WEEK

BROADWAY HEADLINES OF THE WEEK

EXECUTIVE ANNOUNCEMENTS OF THE WEEK:

COVID NEWS TWEETS OF THE WEEK


QUOTES OF THE WEEK:

At the end of 2020. The first thing to go was Twitter. Getting rid of Instagram was hard, but people were getting the wrong end of the stick about me and vice versa. You can make an identity on social media and that’s why it’s so powerful for people of colour and marginalised communities. When you live in a world of structural inequality, you can be seen. It can be beautiful to be a version of you – it’s almost like cosplay – but I saw how it was damaging my relationships with people. The nail in the coffin was when I saw how it was negating my ability to communicate with people in real life. I’m about 90% sure I have ADHD and I’m very happy to do a lot of things at once, but it was making it harder to listen. When I left, I got so much time back and that’s one of the reasons it’s hard to delete: there’s the peril of nothingness and there’s the tyranny of loneliness.

THEATRE BIRTHDAYS OF THE WEEK

AND FINALLY, SOME FAVOURITE TWEETS OF THE WEEK

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