The longevity of lockdown was hard on theatre enthusiasts. Yes, we were greeted with theatre streams on YouTube but they were shoddily recorded, often looking as if they were recorded on someone’s old Nokia phone. And, yes, we were delighted with the arrival of the Hamilton musical as it whizzed onto our living room screens and we had the intoxicating refrains stuck in our head for weeks on end. But lingering at the back of our mind was one question: when will we actually be able to go see a show, like you know, in the flesh?
Theatre lovers’ prayers may just have been answered thanks to Regent’s Park Open Air theatre, who announced last week that they would be reopening with a concert staging of Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Jesus Christ Superstar in August.
The news followed the government’s announcement that outdoor theatres may reopen providing that they follow health and safety regulations and adhere to social distancing guidelines. This guidance was all well and good, but anyone with any common sense knows how much time, effort and work goes into putting on a theatre production, from stage designing to rehearsing. But luckily for theatre lovers Regent’s Park Open Air theatre had been busy burrowing away in the background, ready to pounce when Boris gave the green light, with a concert production of the theatre classic.
The production, running for a six week period from 14th August, will be bringing back to life Rice and Lloyd Webber’s glorious production of Jesus Christ Superstar in a fun new concert performance. Actors Declan Bennett and Pepe Nufrio will be taking on the role of Jesus, and the performing cast will all be socially distanced themselves, which will take a little while to get used to.
Another difference, and perhaps the most noticeable, will be the reduction in capacity, with the 1,256 seated venue whittling their capacity down to a mere 390 people per performance. It’s obviously to adhere to social distancing guidelines, but it might just make the experience a whole lot more special thanks to its intimate feel.
As well as the production, the outdoor theatre will be hosting comedy nights too, with everyone from Jimmy Carr to Russell Brand making an appearance on stage. So if comedy is more your bag, book in now for some rip roaring laughter moments with big comedic names.
Theatres throughout lockdown had been trying their hardest to keep their head above the water, with many campaigning for financial support from the government. And support for the arts and cultural scene appeared to be at the bottom of the government’s list, until they scraped together £1.57 billion for the arts.
While the Regent’s Park Open Air theatre’s announcement may be one of the first, we’re hoping that this means there’s also light at the end of the tunnel for London’s other leading theatres and West End productions in the near future, because without, London isn’t the same.
Regent’s Park Open Air’s Jesus Christ Superstar: The Concert arrives 14th August – 27th September