In mid-March 2020, every West End theatre in the UK was forced to close its doors. No one would have predicted that it would take until 15 November 2021 for all of them to return to action once again.
With the first preview of Cabaret this evening, every single one of the 37 West End theatres (can you name them all?) has officially recommenced live shows – following Moulin Rouge! over the weekend. That makes it 609 days since this was last possible.
Last year saw a few venues able to open up with socially distanced shows (including all six Nimax theatres), but these were closed by fresh lockdowns. This year, the first socially distanced production to recommence was, aptly, record-breaking favourite The Mousetrap.
Of course – the West End is not a yardstick for UK theatre as a whole – many venues across the nation still require urgent support – either through attending shows, streaming online productions or donations.
It is by no means business as usual – but with artists employed, audiences enchanted and the connection between live performance and spectator re-established, today can be a cause for celebration.