Posts

,

Look Ahead: Theatre Streaming in March

At last! A roadmap – the prime minister has announced a timeline for when theatres and other live events venues may be able to reopen.

All being well, indoor and outdoor theatres will be allowed to reopen with social distancing from May 17.

Hmmmmmmmmm.

Anyway, here are some of the best shows streaming online now or later in March.

Whatever you decide to stream this month – please check out Richard Blackwood in Soho Theatre’s breathless reimagining of the tragic final hours of Christopher Alder’s life: Typical is a terrific and powerful monologue that deserves another life when All This is over.

Richard Blackwood in Typical

Morgan Lloyd Malcom’s Olivier Award winning Emilia will be streaming for all of March on a pay what you decide basis (from £1.00). A blazing take on Emilia Bassano, a 17th century poet who struggled to get her voice heard in a patriarchal world. Now you know.

Kiln Theatre is streaming a reading of new play Girl on the Altar by Marina Carr, streams for free on 5 March.

A new folk musical, by Robin Simões da Silva and Annabel Mutale Reed, Brother will be streamed live from Southwark Playhouse – the show follows a young transgender man finding his way in the world. Streaming live 5-6 March.

Recorded at the London Palladium and hosted by Sheridan Smith, Musicals: The Greatest Show featuredMichael Ball, Nicole Scherzinger and more belting West End classics with a couple of songs from recent British hits Six and Everybody’s Talking About Jamie. Not awful and still available on BBC iPlayer. 

Musicals: The Greatest Show – Layton Williams

The Barn Theatre in Cirencester’s latest digital offering is a multiple-choice cabaret featuring 14 musical performers. Conceived by Ryan Carter, The Secret Society of Leading Ladies is a clever concept; there are a possible 150 combinations in which to see a five-song concert. Available until 7 March.

The Old Vic has revealed two commissioned monologues created to mark International Women’s Day on March 8: Putting A Face On by Kiri Pritchard-McLean and Regina Taylor’s Aisha (the black album). Available on YouTube for free. 

Adam Kashmiry plays himself in excellent play Adam, the story of a transgender man who sought asylum in Scotland. Now, the BBC has teamed up with National Theatre Scotland for a specially crafted recording as part of the BBC Arts Lights Up for New Culture in Quarantine season. Following its BBC Four premiere, Adam will be available on BBC iPlayer.

The Whip, Juliet Gilkes’s resonant play about 19th-century slavery-abolition legislation, has had a new audio recording commissioned by the RSC. On YouTube until 16 March.

The Picture of Dorian Gray, adapted by Henry Filloux-Bennett and director by Tamara Harvey is a starry digital adaptation of the Oscar Wilde classic with Gray depicted as an “influencer”. Streams 16-31 March.

Last year’s virtual celebration of the work of Stephen Sondheim, Take Me To the World is still available on YouTube – why not watch it again on Steve’s birthday, Tuesday  22  March. I’ll drink to that!

By the way, the original 1980 Broadway production of the Stephen Schwartz musical Pippin –  directed and choreographed by Bob Fosse  –is available to stream on Amazon Prime.

If you have a show streaming during the month of March or suggestions for my blog get in touch – this will be updated weekly. Cheers! E: mrcarlwoodward@gmail.com

,

Curve’s victory in Seyi Omooba court case is a victory for theatre

OUR economy is in the toilet, Britain’s hospitality industry is ruined and theatres are closed across the country, indefinitely.

In better news, Seyi Omooba – who was sacked over a Facebook post attacking homosexuality – has had her claim for discrimination, breach of contract and harassment rejected.

Omooba, 26, sued Leicester’s Curve Theatre and her former agents for £128,000 after being dropped from a stage performance of The Color Purple. She had been due to play the lead character Celie, a character in a lesbian relationship.

Today, though, Omooba lost the bone-brained employment tribunal against Curve and Global Artists. It has been a long time coming.

Turns out the performer was initially pursuing £128,000 in compensation from both parties, but revised her financial claim ahead of the final day of the hearing to a claim worth £71,400.

Compensation that, for reasons of stupidity and prejudice, aren’t ever going to come Seyi or her father’s way.

The panel also rejected Ms Omooba’s demands for compensation for loss of earnings, future losses and reputational damage as a result of her agency contract being terminated.

“There is no financial loss because she would not have played the part,” it said.

“If there is damage to her reputation, it was not caused by being dropped from the production but by an unconnected person’s tweeting… of her Facebook post and the outcry resulting from that.”

Chris Stafford and Nikolai Foster said in a statement today: “Unfortunately, we consider that Curve has been subject to a carefully orchestrated campaign from Seyi Omooba and Christian Concern, who have used the tribunal process – and our theatre – as an opportunity to further their case.”

“Our fight was in the name of Curve, but also to protect the integrity of the character of Celie – who was based on Alice’s grandmother Rachel- and all other Celies in our world,” they added.

It was the height of madness to contemplate this going her way. Omooba’s case had been supported by the legal arm of Christian Concern, a wing-nut organisation co-founded by her father, pastor Ade Omooba MBE. Curve were always shooting fish in a barrel with this lot, obviously.

Somewhere in the middle of this rainbow chase, however, we did discover Omooba kept her “red line” of not playing gay characters “secret” from directors. She also denied that appearing in a concert production the show in 2017 meant she was aware of the lesbian storyline in the show. God.

Christopher Milsom QC, representing Global Artists, described Omooba as “the author of her own misfortune.”

Of course, it is reassuring that Omooba lost.

Try to think of the positives though, and the knock-on effect of this victory for Curve; a line has been drawn and and the outcome has set a legal precedent.

Admittedly, the crumb of comfort here is that we can only hope that the courts never entertain such a case again.

The Color Purple – At Home streams until 7 March 

,

Look Ahead: Theatre streaming in January

You might say “Carl why haven’t you put a list together of all the shows that are available for virtual viewing, are you having another meltdown” and, yes, fair point but what can you do in The General Circumstances Of A Global Pandemic.

Anyway, below is a list of the best pre-recorded or live shows available to stream during lockdown 3 (you’re welcome)

Lazarus

David Bowie and Enda Walsh’s musical Lazarus – the stage sequel to The Man Who Fell The Earth starring Michael C Hall – is streaming this weekend (8 – 10 Jan) and timed to mark Bowie’s birthday and the fifth anniversary of his death.

Lazarus

Very few people saw it in 2015, due to the shortness of the run, secrecy of the process, and the size of the venues at the New York Theatre Workshop and Kings Cross pop-up production.  I did, and it is really quite terrific.

Disney+

There is a whole area of Disney+ dedicated to musicalsa 160-minute live recording of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s original stage production of musical Hamilton is still on the streaming service. For now…

(Fun fact: if you’re new to O2 or upgrading, you can get 6 months of Disney+ for free – hurrah).

National Theatre at Home

Our Royal National Theatre has launched a pay-for-plays streaming service – it costs £9.98 a month or £5.99-£7.99 per play. The NT’s 2020 panto, Dick Whittington, is available from 11 January for six weeks and new plays are added to the collection each month.

Note: National Theatre at Home would be a lot better with Follies on it. 

Bush Theatre

The Bush’s experimental trans monologue Overflow (Jan 18-23) by Travis Alabanza (Burgerz) streams digitally.

Now you know.

Digital Theatre 

Digital Theatre has more than 100 world class theatre experiences to watch, Funny Girl, starring Sheridan Smith, Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre’s production of Into The Woods and more.

Funny Girl

You can rent productions from £7.99 each or sign up for unlimited streaming for £9.99 a month.

The Shows Must Go On! YouTube Channel

Free weekly shows and concerts: The Shows Must Go On! is still going. Loads of random crap ends up being streamed for free on this channel. However, just occasionally an absolute classic does land. See: 42nd Street just before Christmas.

Don’t forget to donate if you watch too, obviously.

BBC iPlayer

I mean, Matthew Bourne’s The Red Shoes, Uncle Vanya and Northern Ballet are all on the BBC’s free streaming service. Do some digging around and pay your licence fee, citizens.

Bristol Old Vic – at Home

Bristol Old Vic has a live streamed productions and archive productions coming up including ‘Sherlock in Holmes – an online murder mystery’. You can Buy a Season Pass for just £12.99 which features a “rare bootleg capture” of the Bristol production of musical The Grinning Man is available until 28 February.

The Old Vic

The London theatre is re-streaming two productions from its In Camera initiative including Faith Healer (20-22 Jan) starring Michael Sheen and Lungs (27-29 Jan) featuring Matt Smith and Clare Foy. Both shows are available from a tenner.

Sky Arts

Last year, Britain’s only television channel dedicated solely to culture, Sky Arts, became free for everyone. Hurrah.

Rose

To mark Holocaust Memorial Day, Martin Sherman’s Rose, starring Dame Maureen Lipman, will be free to watch on Sky Arts (27 Jan). The channel is available to Sky, Virgin Media and Talk Talk TV customers.

The Case of the Hung Parliament 

This online Sherlock Holmes whodunnit by Les Enfants Terribles and the virtual reality company LIVR, TCOTP is an immersive alternative to traditional boardgames. (27 Jan-17 Feb).

Nottingham Playhouse Christmas shows

After the year we all had, we certainly deserve to keep the Christmas cheer going a little longer.

Alas, you can watch the Playhouse’s panto Cinderella and Jack and the Beanstalk for ages 3-8 for £10 and £20 respectively – on demand until 16 January.

 

Sunset Boulevard 

Leicester Curve’s digital concert production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s version of 1950 film Sunset Boulevard – smartly staged and lavishly produced stream – starring Ria Jones and Danny Mac has been extended by a week and will now be available to stream online until 17 January. It is the best of the bunch of streaming musicals right now.

Shakespeare’s Globe’s digital platform: Globe Player

Twelfth Night

There are more than 130 professionally filmed plays to rent (£5.99) or own (£11.99) from the Globe’s streaming platform. Highlights include Emma Rice’s Midsummer Night’s Dream and a hypnotic Twelfth Night starring Mark Rylance and Stephen Fry.

There we have it.

If you are streaming a show or have any other recommendations please get in touch.

E: mrcarlwoodward@gmail.com

I will be publishing these blogs regularly, so.

Cheers!

, , ,

Nimax Theatres to open West End theatres in sequence from 22 Oct with social distancing

Good news everyone: after the worst year in modern history, the owner of the Apollo, Duchess, Garrick, Lyric, Palace and Vaudeville theatres will welcome audiences back to London after seven-months of closure, starting with the Apollo in October.

Nimax Chief Executive Nica Burns said: “I am delighted to announce we will be switching on all our lights and presenting a special season of fantastic entertainment.  First up at the Apollo Theatre, Shaftesbury Ave is This is Going to Hurt written and performed by ex-NHS doctor Adam Kay who will open his run with a free performance for NHS staff on 22 October.  Tickets will soon be on sale at www.nimaxtheatres.com as is registration for NHS staff to enter the ballot for their free performance.

Nica Burns

Our full programme of special shows will reopen each of our six venues prior to the return of our brilliant long running shows: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (Palace theatre), Everybody’s Talking About Jamie (Apollo theatre), Magic Goes Wrong (Vaudeville theatre), The Play That Goes Wrong (Duchess theatre). Details on this special season of shows will be announced over the next fortnight.

All our venues will open with social distancing plus robust risk mitigation to comply with government COVID-19 Secure guidelines. Although with reduced capacities it is not possible to make a profit, we are determined retain Nimax’s highly skilled, experienced workforce alongside the huge, talented tapestry of freelancers onstage and backstage, plus the many teams and businesses which together give our audiences a night to remember. Our theatre community cannot wait to get back to work safely.

As culture secretary Oliver Dowden wrote this week, ‘…theatre is a lynchpin of London’s West End and its absence is painfully reflected in its deserted streets.’  Even with reduced capacities at our theatres, we can entertain over 20,000 customers a week who we hope will re-energise the beating heart of our city, particularly the cafes, bars and restaurants that are an essential part of the fabric of the West End. Ticket sales for those venues that have managed to open so far, both outdoor and indoor, have been strong and we look to the future with confidence.”


Adam Kay says:
“It’s extremely heartening that Theatreland is starting to gear up again. The people you see on stage are the very tip of the theatre iceberg – behind the scenes are hundreds of hard-working staff – from electricians to stage managers to lighting techs to box office to carpenters – huge numbers of whom fell between the gaps of government support. I’m very proud to return to the West End, following the extraordinary efforts of Nimax to do so in a way that’s safe for staff and theatregoers alike, and doubly proud to open the run with a free show for NHS staff, who can clearly do with a night out more than anyone.“


Why is Nimax opening at a loss?
Like all businesses, Nimax looked at their business strategy post 31 October when the furlough scheme ends.  As part of this, they looked at the financial and human cost of large-scale redundancies.  They preferred to put the potential redundancy monies towards employment rather than unemployment. When they then fully open, they will have their fantastic workforce in place saving the cost of recruiting again. With this plan Nimax will not be making a profit but will be earning a contribution to their costs post-furlough which will enable them to achieve 4 key aims:-

  • Jobs:  Save the jobs of Nimax’s experienced, highly skilled and valued full time theatre staff teams as well as central management staff teams. They will also be hiring front of house and performance staff. Total jobs 355 plus.In addition, a significant number of freelancers will benefit and freelance jobs will be created or reactivated: actors, musicians, creative teams, stage management, wardrobe plus affiliated sector businesses such as marketing, press and technical hire companies.Everyone in the theatre community is desperate to get back to work. Nimax Theatres would like to thank their fantastic staff team and all our freelancers who were working in their theatres. They would also like to thank the three theatre unions BECTU, Equity and the MU who are working collaboratively across our industry to help us reopen.
  • Assist the stimulation of London economy: Even at a reduced capacity, Nimax will be attracting a significant number of customers into the West End stimulating the local economy in our area, particularly cafes, bars and restaurants.
  • Fulfilling audience demand: Nimax will be helping to fulfil a pent up demand of audiences who wish to return to theatres as demonstrated by our (SOLT/UK Theatre) latest audience survey  from Morris Hargreaves and McIntyre,  where 72% of audiences surveyed said they were looking forward to the thrill of seeing something live. Nimax can’t wait to welcome audiences back to experience a fantastic night out.
  • Consumer confidence: Nimax want to help build up consumer confidence with a return to central London and indoor entertainment spaces. They are proud to display the new industry See it Safely mark to show that our venues are compliant with the latest government guidelines.

Why can Nimax Theatres open when other theatres cannot?

The economics of their business model: they are the smallest of the 4 large West End theatre owning companies.  The smaller the theatre and the shows it presents, the lower the costs.  Hamilton, The Lion King, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s new musical Cinderella are very expensive to run (both show and theatre) on a weekly basis.  Conversely, costs for The Play That Goes Wrong in Nimax’s smallest theatre, the 500 seat Duchess, are substantially lower.

Special reopening programming: Nimax will be presenting special programming to be announced separately prior to the re-opening of our long running shows.

These shows are:

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (Palace theatre) – performances are currently suspended until Sunday 21 February 2021

Everybody’s Talking About Jamie (Apollo theatre) – performances are currently suspended until 11 November 2020

Magic Goes Wrong (Vaudeville theatre) – performances are currently suspended until Sunday 15 November 2020

The Play That Goes Wrong (Duchess theatre) – performances are currently suspended until Sunday 18 October 2020

What help does the theatre sector need from the government?

For the theatre to survive, we need the following:

  • End of social distancing: to reopen as quickly and safely as possible without social distancing and at full capacity. As the larger shows take time to remount, we need a date as soon as possible.
  • Extension of the JRS and self-employed support schemes:  for theatres, businesses and freelancers who cannot open with social distancing.
  • Insurance: a scheme on the same lines as that already agreed with cinema and TV sector.

Asked about the return of pantomimes, Nica says: “We won’t be putting on a pantomime. [But] I know Andrew Lloyd Webber and Michael Harrison, our greatest panto producer, and I’m really hopeful that, oh yes, we will be going to the London Palladium at Christmas.”

There we have it.

 

, ,

What the hell is going on with The Phantom of the Opera?

The West End’s second longest running show, is to end after more than 30 years.

Cameron Mackintosh & Andrew Lloyd Webber

It reached crescendo, yesterday, when producer Cameron Mackintosh confirmed in an article for the Evening Standard that the London production has been “permanently shut down” as a result of the coronavirus.

The decision to end the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical was said to have been reached after the surprise £1.5bn rescue package for the arts “failed to materialise”.

A knee-jerk move that told us one of two things.

Either Mackintosh thinks the public are so dangerously stupid they wouldn’t notice a 1,500lb Chandelier prop on the pavement, or there’s nothing the superproducer won’t do for publicity.

This is, after all, Cameron Mackintosh: a relentless, formula-driven, and shrewd producer where spontaneity is rarely on the menu.

It is probably worth mentioning that Mackintosh (whose shows include Les Misérables and Hamilton) came in at 119th place on the Sunday Times Rich List, with an estimated wealth of £1.24bn.

Anyway, Lloyd Webber recently tweeted that he would try to preserve the “brilliant original” version of the long-running musical, when it does return.

Although, I’m not 100 per cent sure that the the old show is ever coming back. 

“On top of this,” Mackintosh continued, “Andrew and I have had to sadly permanently shut down our London and UK touring productions of The Phantom of the Opera, but are determined to bring it back to London in the future.”

What still slightly surprised me, however, was how casually and confusingly this was announced, and that all touring productions of Phantom will also cease to operate.

The musical’s world tour, recently in Seoul,  survived the pandemic, weathered a cast outbreak to become perhaps the only large-scale show running, and playing eight shows a week.

Her Majesty’s Theatre

Has Cam Mack contrived a way of automating the show, slicing production costs, and cutting royalties by installing the UK touring production in 2021?

Interestingly, Delfont Mackintosh HQ were not aware that the producer had written the Standard article until they saw the front page tweeted by George Osborne. 

Apart from the bungled announcement, though, I don’t bear Mackintosh too much resentment, The musical has had an outstandingly good 33 year run globally.

Maybe a new musical could take up residence once the overdue refurbishment is complete.

That said, what long-term business lesson will actually be learned from this? There are no signs that the producer is intending to shut down Les Miserables, for example.

But Mackintosh had ‘updated’ that original production and plonked the inferior 2010 tour staging in the recently refurbished Sondheim Theatre, minus the revolve.

Furthermore, Mackintosh went on to raise concerns about the validity of employing social distancing in theatres. 

“My loyal production and theatre management staff have been cut by 60 per cent reduced to a dedicated team who will look after these priceless historic buildings so they are ready to ramp up back into production the moment the Government accepts that social distancing, which I have been totally opposed to from the outset, is no longer a requirement.”

Twenty four house of chin stroking later and echoing what Mackintosh said in his article Lloyd Webber tweeted: “As far as I’m concerned, Phantom will re-open as soon as is possible.

Repeat ’til fade.