Arts News!

Andy Gray a reflection.

Andy Gray:

Starting this article hurts, finding the words to sum up one of our countries greatest comics, actors, writers and his crowning achievement King of Pantomimes just a day after his untimely passing was announced still feels surreal and palpably untrue.

On Screen:

As “Chancer” in BBC Scotland’s “City Lights”

Andy Gray is gone at 61 and looking back at his life it’s a rich legacy of man who was born to perform and made the arts world his life. Starting out his career in his native Perth working at Perth Rep and Borderline along with connections to 7:84 and other ground breaking companies of the late 70’s and early 80’s . Andy rose to national promise thanks to his stints on BBC’s Naked Video which led in 1987 to the creation of “Chancer” opposite the Late Gerard Kelly in “City Lights”. Andy also put in spirited cameos in other Comedy Unit productions for the BBC including Rab C Nesbitt. Although the bulk of Grays Career was spent in his true love, the theatre, nothing matched the thrill of a live audience. Andy returned to our Screens in BBC Scotland’s “River City” as the beloved “Pete Galloway” in 2016. It was in River city that viewers got to see the depth of Andy’s acting skill. Although “Pete” had a strong comic element there were powerful scenes as the character battled mental health issues and Andy shone as the consummate actor, tears of laughter replaced with tears of raw emotion.

In the Theatre:

The Cast of ” I Dreamed a Dream”

In the theatre mention the name Andy Gray and instantly people connect him to Pantomime and rightly so, but Andy had a varied career in the theatre including Straight drama, Musicals and classical theatre parts not to mention his stints performing in the Edinburgh Fringe.

Stints at all the major theatres across Scotland beckoned for Andy including “Werewolf” at the Traverse in Edinburgh, a rollicking performance as Nicely Nicely in Kenny Irelands acclaimed 2001 production of Guys and Dolls at the Royal Lyceum opposite his friend Elaine C Smith. 2002 saw Gray team up with his “City Lights” co star Gerrard Kelly for a production of “The Odd Couple” at the Byre Theatre, St Andrews which would then go on to tour the country.

Gray would return to the Royal Lyceum for Kenny Ireland in 2003 for Yasmin Rez’s “Art” performing with James Macpherson and Forbes Masson. Their combined timing was a reflection of perfection in modern theatre.

Later years would see him rack up credits in west end hit “Stones in his pockets” playing opposite his panto partner Allan Stewart. “The Rise and Fall of Little Voice” and “I dreamed a dream” the Susan Boyle musical both with Elaine C Smith along with a spell in “A midsummer’s night dream”. Andy’s pedigree in the theatre will never be matched our indeed surpassed.

On The Fringe:

Publicity Shot for “Kiss Me Honey Honey”

Andy became a regular at the Edinburgh Fringe popping up in 1999 in Theatre Archipelago’s “Communicado” although far from a smash hit success it gave Andy the taste for working in the constraints that the Fringe brings. 2005 saw him begin a long tenure with Gilded Balloon appearing Bob Steiner’s “A limited Run” at the Gilded Balloons Teviot House. It was to the Gilded Balloon in 2013 that Andy would return to team up with his Panto pal Grant Stott for a series of fringe adventures. 2013’s “Kiss me honey honey” written by Philip Meeks which was the runaway success of that year’s festival and returned in 2014. In the 2013 season Andy did double duty also performing in “God Bless Liz Locked” earning plaudits for both. 2015 saw Andy and Grant back in the Gilded Balloon Teviot for the darkly funny “Willie and Sebastian” in which Andy won the Stage Award for performing excellence. 2017 saw the pair move to Gilded Balloons new Space “The Rose Theatre” and there greatest success with “Double Feature” This play truly showcased how the partnership of Gray and Stott had matured working comedy with ease and pathos laden drama with equal skill it was a joy to watch. In 2018 Andy and Grant were scheduled to return to the Rose for Ruaraidh Murray’s “Junkies”. Andy completed one performance only as his diagnosis of blood cancer saw the cancellation of the run. Andy’s fringe adventures spanned over 25 years and the festival will be forever enriched by his contributions.

Pantomime:

The Golden Trio of the King’s Panto during “Mother Goose”

Andy’s true love and the part of his legacy he will be remembered for most is Pantomime.  Especially his long tenure with the King’s Theatre Edinburgh. Taking to the Stage of the King’s first in 1999 playing opposite Allan Stewart’s buttons and Dorothy Paul’s Fairy Godmother in Cinderella it was the start of something uniquely special. The following year local radio and TV personality Grant Stott joined the cast for Dick Whittington and Stewart donned the frock as Dame Aunty May and the Golden Trio was born. 2006 saw the King’s mark its centenary with Cinderella once more gracing the stage as it had 100 years before. The curtain down of this season would see the start of what Andy himself would call “his wilderness years”. Gray would miss 2007’s Goldilocks, 2008’s Aladdin and 2009’s Robinson Crusoe panto’s at the Kings. Panto never left him though during those years appearing in London at the Barbican as Dame for Jonathan Harvey’s Pantomime and in Glasgow King’s panto opposite his old friend Gerard Kelly. Ultimately the King’s Edinburgh was always home and a rejuvenated Andy returned to the Kings in 2010 for Jack and Beanstalk dawning the crown as King Crumble. It was the King’s Edinburgh that Andy would spend the rest of his Pantomime life. 2018 saw the Kings announce Beauty and the Beast as that year’s panto. Andy was announced in the casting, but following his diagnosis, a great deal of soul searching and on the advice of his doctors he reluctantly took the year off. However he made an unscheduled appearance on stage during the curtain call near the end of the run, the raw emotion flowing over the footlights Andy then knew just how much he was loved by the Edinburgh audiences and what he meant to them. It fueled Andy for his comeback to panto in 2019’s Goldilocks and the three bears. Arriving on stage in a glitzy production number adorned with a Top Hat, the show stopped for a sustained standing ovation, Andy beaming in the spotlight, he had come home once more. Alas that’s the lasting memory panto audiences will have of him, that and his ability to latch onto a single word, balloon, banana or umbrella all words that on their own aren’t funny but give them to Andy, comedy joy was created. Andy Gray truly is and always will be the King of the King’s Pantomimes.

 A Personal Reflection:

Andy Gray and Grant Stott performing “Double Feature”

The greatest attribute of Andy Gray was his humanity, love and compassion regardless of how you met him, taxi driver, stage door keeper, fellow performer, journalist or even audience member you felt you knew Andy; he was a friend and a trusted one at that. For me I met Andy several times over the years at Panto and Theatre press nights, sharing many a laugh and glass or two of prosecco. In 2017 I ended up sharing a dressing room with Andy and Grant during that’s years Fringe, I was performing two musicals in rep which ran back to back with Andy and Grants “Double Feature”. The Captivate cast would be well into the second act of our shows when Andy arrived, to take up his space in the dressing room, it was always joyous, nothing got him down and the laughter would ring out as would the odd story of his adventures across his career which the younger members of our cast would devour. He and Grant were true professionals through and through, as we took our curtain call Andy and Grant would be on the stairs behind the stage waiting to get access to set up for their show. They spoke to every single cast member who passed them, saying well done and great show and you could tell by the sparkle in Andy’s eye he truly meant it. To share such an intimate space with Andy across the period of the festival was a true gift that’s left memories that will last a lifetime.

Thank You

Andy Making a curtain call appearance During Beauty and the Beast

Andy Gray, comic, actor, writer, performer, father, grandfather, family member and friend you have been taken far too soon and the irony of your beating cancer with humor and good grace you were renowned for does not go un-noticed only to be taken so soon after that victory. None the less we say thank you, for all those years of joy, laughter and memories you’ve given to audiences across Scotland. You were a true gentleman filled in equal measure with compassion, love and talent. We shall never see your likes again, but we will always remember you, standing in the spotlight on the Kings Theatre Stage taking in the adulation you so richly deserved.

All at Scotsgay arts send our love to Andy’s Partner Tamara, Daughter Clare and all his family. Also to Allan Stewart, Grant Stott and the entire team at the King’s Theatre Edinburgh Pantomime.

Until we meet again,

Brett

Editor, Scotgay arts.

Arts News!

2020 Years End:

Reflecting on a year like no other:

As the hours tick away to the clock striking midnight and heralding in 2021, we as we do every year look back at the 12 months just gone. I think we can all agree 2020 is a year like no other, our arts industry and the entire world beyond it have changed beyond recognition.

Since March Theatres and arts venues across Scotland have remained closed, the Edinburgh festivals were cancelled, concerts of all shapes and sizes didn’t take place and the rebirth of Drive in Cinema became the norm. Further afield theatres did reopen in England then got caught in the yo yo of ever-changing rules and regulations from a clueless government.

The fight to secure funding to carry on is a fight far too many companies and venues have lost and most heartbreakingly it’s the vast swave of freelancers who have born the brunt. That said its also been a humbling experience to see how people view the arts and value it, the quantity of online content and the overwhelming desire that no matter what, Theatre and arts will survive and prosper once more.

We at Scotsgay Arts published our last review in March before a substantial break and introducing our Theatre vs Covid series of news items, we were truly blessed to publish a few more reviews just this month including the London palladium pantomime.

Theatre matters, The Arts Matters and the burning light of creativity will never go out, so to all those productions we did manage to review we thank you for allowing us to cover your work. To all those in the creative industries from performers to technicians and beyond, the curtain will rise once more and we are so excited to be there and see the lights come one again.

To Mary Woodward thank you for your ongoing contributions, to our readers, we wish you a Happy, Peaceful, Prosperous and Healthy New Year. May 2021 truly be better for us all.

Arts News!

Innovations Dance Platform 2020

Dance Platform Returns Digitally:

Edinburgh based Innovations was initiated with the ambition of championing creative innovation within the field of contemporary dance. Opening doors for dance artists and companies at all stages in their career as a catalyst for presenting their work to new audiences. 

Innovations has held platforms annually since 2014 presenting eclectic and diverse programmes by artists from the UK and abroad. 2018 saw the platform open its first Edinburgh Fringe Festival Edition, giving artists the opportunity to present their work in the heart of the biggest cultural and arts festival on the planet. 

Dance Horizons now presents the first digitally produced edition of Innovations Dance Platform.

A company spokesman said “On the 28th of November audience members should be taking their seats at The Studio but due to the ongoing pandemic live theatre in Scotland is not possible and that all our live events this year have had to be cancelled. However, our dedicated production team have pulled together alongside our artists and companies to produce a programme of Scottish grown dance work for a very special digital edition.”

For full details and to book tickets for the digital performance go to: http://www.innovationsdanceplatform.co.uk/digital.html

Arts News!

Theatre Vs Covid-19: The Funds Arrive

Theatre Vs Covid-19: The Funds Arrive

Where are we at now:

In our last Arts News Item in the Theatre vs Covid -19 series published on October 11th we looked at the various venues and productions companies beginning there fight back to get the arts and theatrical industry back on its feet as we continue to wait for the long promised funding to be made available Since then both the UK and Scottish Governments have announce large tranches of funds to support the arts as they continue to grapple with the effects of the pandemic.

It is inevitable that far to many companies, venues and vitally freelancers will still be left to fall through the cracks and struggle on as the industry continues feel the effects of not just the virus but also the fight to be heard by those with the power of the purse This has been born true in the case of Glasgow’s Pavilion Theatre one of Scotland’s few independent large scale theatres who have caused a social media storm of recent. . It is a shameful condemnation of what government thinks of the arts. It has been especially interesting for those of us who allow our passion for it to be the driving factor the arts will survive and flourish and the world and our lives will be better for it.

So, let us take a look at where some of the money is going.

Capital Theatres:

The King’s Theatre Edinburgh

Edinburgh’s Capital Theatres the charitable trust that over sees the Festival, King’s and Studio Theatre’s in Edinburgh has been awarded a £500,000 grant from the Scottish Government. This is in addition to the £250,000 previously awarded. ( although smaller venues in the city ie The Royal Lyceum and Traverse Theatres were awarded a far higher allocation in the first round).

There continues to be a serious threat to the historic King’s Theatre Edinburgh which prior to the Pandemic had secured funding towards the redevelopment of the old lady of leven street and that remains under threat.

Fiona Gibson CEO of Capital Theatres said:

“The emergency funding announcement from the Scottish Government for Capital Theatres is greatly appreciated. It is the short-term financial lifeline that we have campaigned tirelessly for in recent months, bringing us parity with many fellow performing arts venues of similar scale in Scotland. We would very much like to thank the Scottish Government for their support and recognition, acknowledging the crucial contribution our flagship theatres provide to the local, national and cultural sector economies. This will enable us to continue supporting our core staff, freelancers and communities alike.

That being said, this is very much, a long and extremely challenging road to recovery for Capital Theatres and we are still focused on securing the ​future of the organisation long-term. The funding we have received to date from The Scottish Government represents a ​very welcome contribution to our trading deficit this year. As Scotland’s largest theatre charity​, recovery of this lost income is desperately needed in order for us to fully reopen the doors of our three much loved venues – The Festival Theatre, The King’s Theatre and The Studio.

Importantly Capital Theatres’ planned £25million redevelopment of The King’s Theatre still remains under threat. With two-thirds of the required funding in place from a range of sources, the stage was set to progress this vital historic redevelopment of national importance. However, the theatre’s development fund, a designated fund built up over many years specifically for this capital project, has needed to be utilised to enable Capital Theatres to simply function through the pandemic, therefore placing the redevelopment in a precarious position.

The stark truth is that ​with the pandemic trajectory continuing to significantly impact our ability to potentially open our doors well into 2021, there is still so much more that needs to be done to truly reflect the long-term scale of the crisis facing our theatres. ​Our objective continues to be to avoid closure ​of the King’s and to sustain the organisation’s venues ​for the long term ​so they can continue to play their vital role in Scotland’s year-round arts scene​ and support of the health and wellbeing of the many vulnerable communities we serve.

The Pavilion Theatre Glasgow:

The Pavilion Glasgow

The Pavilion have just recently completed a successful crowd funding campaign to turn there 2020 Pantomime offering “Santa Clause is coming to town” into a free digital broadcast. The home of Scottish variety has always been vocal in its attempts to overcome the tough situations its faced over the years.

However, the theatre unleashed a social media tirade against the London Palladium earlier in October as the iconic London based venue opened for socially distant performances that met the restrictions enforced by the UK Government.

While there is merit to statement made by Iain Gordon the simple facts have been ignored, The London Palladium is covered by the restrictions in place by the UK Government where as Covid Restriction in Scotland fall under the Scottish Government remint. Yet no Scottish venue has been allowed to open. To further fan the flames by comparing arts to sport does nothing to help that argument either.

The arts should unite so that the example used by London Palladium, which yes was sold out with the capacity vastly reduced and met social distancing restrictions can be applied to venues around the UK and it may force the Scottish Government to look again at its ongoing ban on not just the arts but hospitality and the many industries struggling to survive. That said the Pavilion has always been the Glasgow people’s theatre and its statements will always pack a punch.

Funding in England:

London Famed West End

South of the border 35 venues and companies were informed there were to receive grants that range from £1 million to £3 million each. Amongst the 35 organisations are English National Ballet, Sadler’s Wells and the Old Vic in London.

The higher tier of grants is for larger organisations that need more than £1 million but not more than the starting value of the loans (£3 million) on offer for even bigger organisations.

In response to the announcement, Old Vic actor Andrew Scott said: “Today’s announcement is a hugely exciting and positive step forward in helping the Old Vic survive and thrive. Over its 200-year lifetime, hundreds of thousands of performers, creatives, technical crews, back-of-house teams and everyone else in-between have worked together to make The Old Vic the cultural icon it is today.”

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said: “As part of our unprecedented £1.57 billion rescue fund, today we’re saving British cultural icons with large grants of up to £3 million – from Shakespeare’s Globe to the Sheffield Crucible. These places and organisations are irreplaceable parts of our heritage and what make us the cultural superpower we are. This vital funding will secure their future and protect jobs right away.”

While there is more funding to be announced it is welcome to see the bulk of the current grants going to the regions but it’s expected that London both on and off west end will feature heavily in the upcoming funding announcements. While its accepted that money will not reach every single arts organisation its hoped this funding will reach its way to those most in need.

A full list of organisations receiving grants is below:

Adlib Audio Limited – £1,650,356
BH Live – £2,499,531
Bill Kenwright Limited – £1,526,028
Birmingham Hippodrome Theatre Trust – £3,000,000
Birmingham Museums Trust – £1,872,750
Birmingham Repertory Theatre – £1,380,023
Black Country Living Museum Trust – £2,559,805
Design Museum – £2,968,634
Dulwich Picture Gallery – £1,357,823
English National Ballet – £3,000,000
Exchange Events Ltd (Gandey Productions) – £1,092,503
Fabric Life Ltd – £1,514,262
Hull City Council – £1,615,725
Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust – £1,860,000
Leeds Grand Theatre & Opera House Ltd – £1,545,163
Leeds Theatre Trust Limited (Playhouse) – £2,381,547
Lights Control Rigging Productions Ltd – £1,076,179
London Transport Museum – £1,750,000
Newcastle Theatre Royal Trust – £3,000,000
North Music Trust (Sage Gateshead) – £1,800,000
Northampton Theatres Trust (Royal & Derngate) – £2,112,891
Norwich Theatre – £3,000,000
Performances Birmingham Limited – £2,534,675
Rambert – £1,283,835
Royal Exchange Theatre Company Ltd – £2,854,444
Sadler’s Wells – £2,975,000
Shakespeare Birthplace Trust – £3,000,000
Shakespeare’s Globe – £2,985,707
Sheffield Theatres Trust Ltd – £2,246,000
The ACC Liverpool Group Limited – £2,972,659
The Mayflower Theatre Trust – £3,000,000
The Octagon Theatre Trust – £620,232
The Old Vic Theatre Trust 2000 – £3,000,000
Theatre Royal (Plymouth) Ltd £1,896,000
Wolverhampton Grand Theatre 1982 LTD £1,187,530

And Finally!

So there we have it, its nice to have some positive news for the arts after 8 months of closure, and with many productions now announcing there return to opening in the west end (with social distancing in full force).

This is just however the tip of the ice berg, so much more sustained financial help is required, if our industry as we knew it prior to covid is to re-emerge fully its needs help of government and its audiences to survive what its going to be a long winter for us all.

Lets as an industry continue to unite and keep those Ghost lights burning bright as we slowly but surely open the theatres of this country once more. We must also remember the arts is more than theatres, from the solo singer on cruise ship to a leading star in the west end the denial of the right perform is the hardest cross to bear, but maybe just maybe there is a chink of light at last in a long tunnel.

Arts News!

Theatre Vs Covid-19: The Fight Back Begins

Theatre Vs Covid-19:

Where are we at now:

In our last Arts News Item in the Theatre vs Covid -19 series published on August 26th we looked at the cancellation of Pantomimes across the Country and the financial burden it was placing on the venues and production Houses. As of this writing the allocation of the UK Governments £1.57 billon support package has still to be released to help those who are in desperate need. Although there is better news north of the border with the Scottish Government announcing the first two tranches of funding to support the industry.

While some venues are receiving funding and limited guidance on the route map back to reopening, the scores of freelance creatives and artists are now forced into survival jobs and as Covid is clearly going through a second wave the Scottish Government have delayed the re-opening date three times and counting.

Venues and producers now clearly see that neither Government will offer the support that needed for those who need it most, therefore the fight back to reopening must be done by the industry itself. Every single member of the industry stands united, we are ready for the challenge we will make the curtains rise once more, so lets take a look around the country and how the theatre is beginning its fight back to life.

The Royal Lyceum Theatre Edinburgh: Christmas Tales

Initial drawing of the reminaged Lyceum Theatre.

A collection of new tales for Christmas by Andy Cannon, Hamaad Chaudhry, Tony Cownie, Robert Softley Gale, Louise Ironside, Jackie Kay, Denise Mina, Mara Menzies, Karine Polwart, Lynda Radley, Shona Reppe, and Morna Young

Directed by Zinnie Harris and Wils Wilson

Designed by Tom Piper

Join Lyceum Theatre this season for a Christmas offering unlike any otherLyceum Christmas Tales is an advent calendar of 12 stories for audiences in Edinburgh and beyond, combining online and live performances of new and familiar festive tales penned and performed by some of Scotland’s best-loved writers, musicians and artists. On 1 Dec, a free 15 minute Christmas story will appear on The Lyceum Website for families to share at bedtime. Then, a brand new story will appear every other day until the 16th of December – 8 free stories in all. You can visit watch them on the venues website as they appear – or they can be sent them direct to your inbox at home – just sign up for Christmas Tales by E-mail . Each fifteen-minute, family-friendly festive tale will be available to watch free throughout December, with stories ranging from tales of Christmas elves and angels to dung beetles and Greyfriars Bobby.

LYCEUM CHRISTMAS TALES LIVE

The final 4 Chirstmas Tales will be performed together in a special live show with musical interludes on a transformed Lyceum stage between 16-20 December. Sadly due the socially distant nature of the seating the run is sold out, however there are plans for the live shows to be streamed.

For full details of the Lyceums Productions go to: https://lyceum.org.uk/whats-on/production/lyceum-christmas-tales

QDOS Pantomimes:

PANTOLAND AT THE PALLADIUM

a brand new socially distant panto for the London Palladium

Thanks to a funding initiative with the National Lottery that’s only available to Qdos Entertainment An announcement from Qdos and LW Theatres of October 9th confirmed that this Christmas Julian Clary will take socially distant audiences on a magical trip to Pantoland at The Palladium. Performances will begin at the world-famous theatre on 12 December 2020 running until 3 January 2021, with tickets now on sale.

The London Palladium, the home of pantomime, will welcome back panto favourites Paul Zerdin, Nigel Havers and Gary Wilmot, as well as past stars Ashley Banjo & Diversity and Charlie Stemp. Making their debut will be West End sensations Beverley Knight and Jac Yarrow.

Returning for a fifth consecutive year, The London Palladium pantomime has become an essential part of Christmas in the West End, with record-breaking box office success year-after-year. Pantoland at The Palladium, devised by Michael Harrison, will be a treasure-trove of The London Palladium panto past and exciting new surprises written especially for the show, guaranteeing an unmissable treat for panto and musical theatre fans alike.

Celebrating the very best of pantomime, with comedy in abundance, this star-filled extravaganza will play to a socially distanced audience. The show will feature the work of Olivier Award-Winning Team director Michael Harrison, choreographer Karen Bruce, set designer Ian Westbrook, costume designer Hugh Durrant, lighting designer Ben Cracknell, sound designer Gareth Owen and composer and orchestrator Gary Hind.

The production at The Palladium has been made possible as a result of a creative initiative announced by The National Lottery today which it hopes will enable hundreds of thousands of theatregoers to enjoy socially distanced pantomime this Christmas in theatres across the nation. The initiative will see The National Lottery buy seats that need to remain empty to enable social distancing, complying with relevant government and public health guidance. By making it viable for theatres to open their doors to the general public, up to 250,000 tickets are expected to be available, with more than 20,000 free tickets available for National Lottery players and the rest to go on sale. This will generate vital income for theatres and help restore jobs – while providing much-needed cheer for panto lovers at Christmas.

More casting will announced in the coming weeks

Pantoland at The Palladium is the first of a number of productions at theatres across the country to be announced, with Newcastle Theatre Royal and the Birmingham Hippodrome already confirmed for new pantos and  further venues to be confirmed in the coming weeks.

Director and Producer Michael Harrison said:

“Pantoland at The Palladium promises to be a spectacular and exciting celebration of this wonderful art form that has been so devastated and decimated by COVID-19.

There is no doubt producing a show of this size and scale is a risk – but it is a risk we have to take. This is not a long term fix, nor a solution to the tragic situation our industry is in, it simply provides a sticking plaster on a very big theatrical wound as we hopefully prepare for full openings in 2021.

As well as bringing our wonderful audiences back, we want to play our part in the rehabilitation of London’s vibrant West End. The production is made possible by the sheer goodwill, determination and courage of so many people – thanks to them over 200 people will now have jobs over Christmas.”

Chairman of Qdos Entertainment, Nick Thomas added:

“I’m delighted that Qdos Entertainment is able to return to The London Palladium this Christmas. Having produced more than 750 pantomimes across the UK over the past 37 years, it would have been unthinkable for us to have a Christmas without the magic of panto. Thanks to our partnership with The London Palladium we are able to give tens of thousands of theatregoers the opportunity to enjoy some very much needed theatrical magic with their families this Christmas.”

Andrew Lloyd Webber said:

“Christmas 2020 needs a Pantomime, and this one at The London Palladium has never meant so much to our industry and our audiences. LW Theatres operates as a not-for-profit and we are delighted that The National Lottery’s support will enable Qdos Entertainment and Producer/Director Michael Harrison to stage this socially distanced production at The London Palladium, alongside many others across the nation.

Opening Pantoland at The Palladium will provide crucial support to struggling restaurants, hotels and other hospitality businesses across the West End, leading to thousands of vital jobs on stage, off stage and backstage.

Since theatres were closed in March, we have spent considerable time, effort and money, making The London Palladium Covid-secure. Using all our knowledge and experiences from around the world, we ran a pilot at The London Palladium for Public Health England and the government to demonstrate that theatres can be a safe environment for our audiences.

By next Spring, our major productions across London’s beloved West End must – and will – be back. I sincerely hope that this pantomime brings a moment of much-needed festive cheer as we continue to fight for the revival of our wonderful and vital theatre industry.”

It not clear if Qdos’s three Scottish venues, His Majesty’s Aberdeen, Kings Theatre Glasgow, Glasgow Sec and King’s Theatre Edinburgh will benefit from this as the arts and covid restrictions are devolved under the Scottish Government we can but hope. There is also chance the palladium panto will be broadcast so maybe even us North of the border will benefit.

For full info on Pantoland at the Palladium go to:

Les Misérables returns to the Barricades.

The Britain’s Got Talent 2020 Finale featured a powerhouse performance of Sir Cameron Macintosh’s biggest shows, Mary Poppins, The Phantom of the Opera and Les Miserable the all star concert cast in performance which moved the nation. Sir Cameron took to the stage to announce the return of Les Misérables – The Staged Concert for a six-week limited run at the Sondheim Theatre from 5 December 2020 – 17 January 2021, coinciding with the musical’s 35th year on Shaftesbury Avenue.  

Les Misérables -The Staged Concert broke box office records and sold out its entire 16 week season when it ran last year at the Gielgud Theatre. Its all-star cast, led by Michael Ball as Javert, Alfie Boe as Jean Valjean (Alfie will alternate the role with John Owen Jones), Carrie Hope Fletcher as Fantine and Matt Lucas as Thénardier will return alongside a company of over 50 actors and musicians. 

Cameron Mackintosh said: 

“the beautiful new Sondheim Theatre will re-open its doors so audiences can once again leap to their feet thrilled by Victor Hugo’s timelessly uplifting story of the survival of the human spirit told through Boublil and Schönberg amazing iconic score – Let The People Sing.  Happy Christmas to us all.”

Covid safety measures and social distancing will be in place front of house, on stage, backstage and throughout the building.

For full details of the special concert performances go to:

https://www.lesmis.com/concert

Elsewhere:

Six Returns:

The smash hit musical has moved London home and has left The Arts theatre to the larger Lyric Theatre for a special festive socially distant season, kicking off on 14 November and running through 31st January 2021. The company will then decant back to The Arts Theatre with performances recommencing 2nd March 2021. The Company have also confirmed the UK Tour will recommence with socially distant performances at the Lowry in Salford at the stunning Lyric theatre (the Lowry houses both the Lyric and Quays Theatre, don’t confuse the west end and Manchester shows when booking.

For full details go to: https://www.sixthemusical.com/

Rent Revived:

Manchester based Hope Mill Theatre company had originally scheduled Jonathan Larson’s classic rock opera “Rent” for the spring of this year before Covid forced a cancellation. However, the company are back! With a socially distant season already sold out to capacity run.

However, there is still time to enjoy the show via the online portal on selected dates for full details go to:

And Finally!

While the industry has a very long way to go and the hurt and suffering will go on for so many, this is the start of the way back, The theatre and arts have survived hundreds of years, through depressions, War, power cuts crippling funding cuts each time its those inside the industry the performers, musicians, front of house staff, the legends of backstage, critics, writers, producers the list is endless have always united in the common good. We may not agree with every choice or decision taken as we make the journey back to our theatres being fully re-opened with Social distancing a thing of the past.

However, it’s clear we must stand united and strong, we are viable, we are worthy, and we give us much to the economy as every other industry. The Government believe they have done enough, the sad reality is its barely scratched the surface and their unwillingness to listen speaks volumes.

For far too many theatres and performances spaces the Ghost lights will continue to burn bright and strong, there auditoriums and stages waiting to be lit once more. The journey to that point starts now, so let the work begin.