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Sleepless In Seattle musical to open with social distancing

Jay McGuiness and Kimberley Walsh will star in the musical (PA)
Jay McGuiness and Kimberley Walsh will star in the musical (PA)

A musical retelling of Sleepless In Seattle starring Jay McGuiness and Kimberley Walsh will open in September with a socially distanced audience wearing masks, it has been announced.

Sleepless, A Musical Romance, was due to open at the Troubadour Wembley Park Theatre on March 24 and the run was delayed because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The show will now open on September 1, with previews from August 25, pending Government guidance.

Jay McGuiness, Kimberley Walsh and Theo Collis will star in the musical (Matt Crockett)

Prime Minister Boris Johnson previously announced that theatres can open from July 4 but live performances are still not permitted. Producers hope this will have changed by the time the show is due to open.

The size of the venue means that there will be no physical contact between the staff and audience at any time and social distancing measures can be applied.

Audiences will be temperature checked on entering the building and will be required to wear face masks.

Food and drink orders will be contactless, hand sanitiser will be available around the building and all areas of the venue will be deep cleaned after each performance.

All cast, crew and audience will be sent the most up-to-date safety measures and instructions 48 hours prior to arrival and the venue will be set up accordingly to accommodate these measures.

The new musical is based on the screenplay of Sleepless In Seattle, which starred Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan.

The book is by Michael Burdette, and music and lyrics by new British writers Robert Scott and Brendan Cull will feature a 12-piece jazz orchestra.

Producer Michael Rose, of Encore Theatre Productions, said: “Lockdown has affected and frightened a huge number of people in this country – particularly in our industry.

“Our story in Sleepless deals with mending something that is broken – it’s about putting a family back together after a loss – and we feel it’s time to do exactly that – it’s time to start the healing process – that’s part of what we do in theatre.”

Producers have previously announced they will hold a special NHS Gala, A Night for Sleepless Heroes, for NHS and care workers on August 27.

Troubadour Wembley Park Theatre said: “Our first priority is and always has been the safety and comfort of our audiences, staff and visiting companies. We are working closely with health and safety experts and strictly following all Government guidelines and we look forward to welcoming audiences to the world premiere of Sleepless whenever this is allowed.”

Sleepless, A Musical Romance will run until September 27.

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