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England to Resume 'Normal' Life From July 19

Good news for theatre in Prime Minister's announcement

England to Resume 'Normal' Life From July 19 English life looks set to return to something resembling normalcy from July 19, following UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson's announcement this evening that the majority of the restrictions imposed by the coronavirus are due to end in two weeks - a month later than had originally been planned. With COVID-19 cases nonetheless on the rise due to the Delta variant, the government pointed to a successful vaccination rollout to instil confidence in relaxing the limits that have been imposed on social contacts at theatres, concerts, and sports events, as well as weddings and funerals.

The news marks the first time in well over a year that theatres across London will be able to put all their seats on sale. In the interim, many have sold the house in self-contained bubbles, like the Orange Tree or the Bridge, or not bothered to re-open at all, like the Menier Chocolate Factory. Big musicals will benefit most from the news, given the financial impossibility of playing to reduced houses.

As if anticipating the news, Andrew Lloyd Webber's new musical Cinderella earlier the same day announced a delay to its press night to July 20, marking the third opening night scheduled for the summer's biggest opening after a decision was taken last week to move its debut forward six days to July 8 instead of back from the original July 14 opening. The later date means the show can now premiere to a full house, with press invited to a final preview July 19 that can now play to full capacity.

At the same time, the theatrical effects of the pandemic remain in evidence. Hairspray cancelled its Sunday matinee due to a suspected case of the virus and won't resume until next week, and the Royal Court's highly acclaimed the seven methods of killing Kylie Jenner has also suspended performances all week, following a similar announcement on Twitter.

The timetable varies elsewhere in the UK, with Scotland due to lift restrictions on August 9 - well-timed to coincide with this year's Edinburgh Festival.

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From This Author - Matt Wolf

Matt is London theatre critic for The International NYTimes (formerly The International Herald Tribune) and a founder member of The Arts Desk, where he remains theatre editor. Matt has authored sev... (read more about this author)


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