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Tudor concert show Six will be first musical to return to West End

Six (Eleanor Howarth)
Six (Eleanor Howarth)

A show about the six wives of Henry VIII will become the first musical to resume performances in a West End theatre.

Six will temporarily move from the Arts Theatre to the Lyric on Shaftesbury Avenue for an 11-week run with social distancing from November 14.

The show is modern retelling of the lives of the six Tudor wives, presented as a pop concert, as the women tell their own stories.

Six will perform nine shows a week at the Lyric and capacity has been reduced to comply with guidelines for social distancing. There will also be hand sanitising, face coverings and track and trace, as well as contactless tickets, temperature testing and deep cleaning of the theatre.

The UK touring cast will also resume performances in the Lyric Theatre at the Lowry in Salford from Friday November 27 for a six-week Christmas season.

Producers Kenny Wax, Wendy and Andy Barnes, and George Stiles said: “Across our two UK productions of Six we have the opportunity to give work to 100 or so actors, musicians, technicians, stage managers, production managers, costume makers, marketing, press, ticketing and office staff.

“We accept that with social distancing it is unlikely to be economically viable, but we hope to entertain many thousands of theatregoers who have been starved of live entertainment since March.

“We hope that opening Six will help build audience confidence and bring business back to the local economy.

“We also understand that restarting productions, particularly musicals, remains impossible for most producers for reasons of scale, finance and lack of cancellation insurance.

“We continue to look forward to the day when social distancing is removed and theatre can play to 100% capacity.”

The Royal Court has also announced it will reopen its doors on November 12 with a new socially distanced live performance.

Living Newspaper: A Counter Narrative is inspired by the Federal Theatre Project of the US – an arts programme to mobilise and employ unemployed artists and theatre workers surfacing from the Great Depression.

There will be six weekly “editions” of the paper, with each edition created and edited by a collective of writers to make a live newspaper with headlines, features and columns which will be performed in spaces around the Royal Court building.

Editions will include satire of the week’s events, alongside long-form think pieces, weekly dating columns, cartoons, the world in pictures, a sports section and a surprise theatre supplement. Every week a space will be given over to a guest contributor.

Vicky Featherstone, artistic director of the Royal Court, said: “I first learnt about the Federal Theatre Project when I was 18. It galvanised me then about theatre as a force for change and stuck with me over the years.

“One day during lockdown I remembered it and how vital it had been not only for saving the theatre industry after the Great Depression but for encouraging those previously underrepresented and for speaking truth to power with celebration and joy.

“As ever at the Royal Court we turn to our diverse community of writers whose ideas, perspectives, experiences can challenge us, surprise us and can make us imagine the impossible.

“The aims of Living Newspaper are quite simple, to give as many people as possible work, to bring our theatre back to life and to create something which is urgent, dynamic, political and disruptive – acknowledging the hugely changed and changing times.

“It is a massive experiment but it is only something radical which has a chance. Onwards!”

It was previously announced that Nimax Theatres plans to reopen all six of its West End venues from October onwards for a season of socially distanced shows.

The company’s venues, which include the Apollo, Palace and Vaudeville theatres, will host reduced audience numbers and therefore run at a loss.

Comedian and former junior doctor Adam Kay will launch the series with his This Is Going To Hurt show at the Apollo, from October 22 to November 8.

Adam Kay
Adam Kay (Charlie Clift/PA)

Also returning later are Everybody’s Talking About Jamie at the Apollo theatre, Magic Goes Wrong at the Vaudeville and The Play That Goes Wrong at the Duchess theatre.

Nimax confirmed that Harry Potter And The Cursed Child will return when social distancing has ended and the Palace Theatre can play to full capacity.

Even with reduced capacities, the company claims to be able to host some 20,000 customers a week.

Chief executive Nica Burns said: “Although with reduced capacities it is not possible to make a profit, we will be earning a contribution to our costs.

“With the furlough support scheme ending on October 31, this income will help us retain Nimax’s highly skilled, experienced workforce and give work to some of the talented tapestry of freelancers onstage and backstage.

The Vaudeville theatre in London
The Vaudeville theatre in London (Ian West/PA)

“We will also be able to support some of 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.”