Producers of the three big blockbuster musicals set to open in Australia have confirmed their shows won’t proceed if social restrictions aren’t lifted to the point where they can play to full houses.
The producers pf ‘Frozen’ which pushed its opening date from July to December, ‘Hamilton’ which is set to open in March and ‘Moulin Rouge’ which is set down for the middle of 2021, all confirmed their productions are on track but will require full easing of social restrictions for their shows to be viable.
It’s not only the big producers who are hoping for a.break from Covid restrictions. but also mainstream and independent theatre in Sydney.
Some of these companies are hoping for a return to the stage in September/October. The Sydney Theatre Company want to put on an outback mystery ‘Wonnangatta’ starring Hugo Weaving and Wayne Blair. Meanwhile Griffin and the Hayes Theatre hope to finish the year with Mark Rogers’ award winning Superheroes and Mel Brooks’ musical ‘Young Frankenstein respectively.
Belvoir, the Ensemble Theatre and the Darlinghurst Theatre Company are sitting tight. Darlinghurst is committed to restaging ‘A Chorus Line’ once physical diostancing restrictions are lifted but it has postponed the rest of its productions.
Ensemble Theatre has cancelled all shows through to July with tentative plans for September and a reopening with ‘Killing Katie: Confessions of a Book Club’.
Belvoir, meanwhile plans to open as soon as its safe to do so and is soon as we are able to survive.
“The three step process seemed to go to great lengths to not mention theatre”, says Eamon Flack. ‘We couldn’t open Belvoir with 20 people, we couldn’t afford to survive with 20 audience members in our house…I do think if you can fly a full plane from Sydney to Perth, then you can open a theatre!”
While Kip Williams considers September to be a realistic time frame for the STC, its only under the provision that the cap on indoor gatherings and social distancing regulations are rolled back.
‘Social distancing doesn’t work for us inside the theatres’, he says. ‘You can’t have half houses, it just doesn’t work as a financial model.”
At the Ensemble, which has 220 seats, Artistic Director Mark Kilmurry is also waiting on Government advise but won’t reopen until he can fill the house.”If we had social distancing you’d have 41 in the auditorium”, he says.
All these comments are yet further confirmation of how vulnerable the theatre industry is in these times. Covid 19 in Australia now seems reasonably contained but this is with a. lot of restrictions still in place. How things pan out as the restrictions are eased and the weather is becoming increasingly wintry is anybody’s guess. This virus is a very dangerous foe to the hopes of the arts community as it strives to resume ‘transmission’.
Featured image : Ensemble Theatre Artistic Director Mark Kilmurry