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New ball game as Great Gatsby hopes to be first West End show to return

Venue for F Scott Fitzgerald classic will have reduced capacity, and audience members will be given temperature checks on arrival

05 June, 2020 — By Tom Foot

Great Gatsby cast member Oliver Towse. PHOTOS: HELEN MAYBANKS

THE Great Gatsby is hoping to become the first West End theatre show to reopen – with “compulsory face coverings” and temperature checks for audience.

Olivier Award-winning producers Louis Hartshorn and Brian Hook have reset the production as a masquerade ball so participating audience members can wear masks and gloves.

There will be a sig­nifi­cantly reduced capacity to allow for social distancing at the Immersive LDN production in 56 Davies Street, Mayfair, due to open in October.

The producers said they hoped to be the “blueprint for other productions to open safely”

Prince Plockey

The Great Gatsby – a popular remake of American author F Scott Fitzgerald’s classic – was forced to shut down in March due to the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent UK shutdown.

Actors are being trained to remain at a safe distance from the audience. All staff and audience will be given temperature checks on arrival.

Organisers say the venue will be deep-cleaned before and after every performance, bar equipment sterilised, and hand sanitisers will be available throughout the venue.

The show’s manager said they hoped the show would be “the first long-running show to responsibly reopen in 2020”.

Last week top West End theatre producer Sonia Friedman said all West End theatres were “on the brink of total collapse” and demanded an urgent government intervention, adding: “We know the lockdown will not last for ever, but when it ends theatre’s problems don’t disappear.

Jessica Hern

“To put it bluntly, theatre is incompatible with social distancing. Most theatres need to sell 60 per cent of seats just to survive.

“The shortfall is not sustainable. If we want theatres to reopen, they will, for a time, until another solution is found, still need financial support.”

The Conservative culture minister defended the government’s support packages for theatres this week, while adding the financial impact of the coronavirus on the industry is “not yet fully understood”.

Caroline Dinenage said Arts Council of England had provided “tailored” packages and that work was ongoing to “fully understand the financial impact of the Covid-19 outbreak on the sector”.

Ms Dinenage was responding to a question from Cities of London and Westminster MP Nickie Aiken in the House of Commons last Thursday.

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