Andy Paradise – Van Morrison on stage at the London Palladium.
The iconic theater was forced to operate on a very limited capacity of 1,200.
Manchester, England-based promoter Kennedy Street and Lloyd Webber Theatres promoted three sold-out, but distanced, concerts from Van Morrison at the London Palladium, Sept. 23-25.
The capacity on each night was 1,200, just over half the theater’s regular capacity, making the shows creatively successful but not financially viable.
“Operating under new, stringent health and safety measures, The London Palladium was made fully Covid secure and compliant with current government regulations and social distancing guidelines – both for audience members, and the staff, crew and performers working on the shows,” a statement from LW Theatres reads.
Craig Sugden – Rebecca Kane Burton
CEO of LW Theatres.
The London Palladium ran a pilot event back in June: temperature checks at the entrance, a one-way system throughout the venue, hand sanitizers, contactless payments, Silver Ion hygienic door handle covers, the wearing of face coverings, and the requirement to remain a distance to other guests were measures in place for the trial run.
The same measures were kept in place for the Van Morrison shows, where staggered arrival times as well as one-way systems around the building made sure, people didn’t get too close to each other at any given time.
Danny Betesh, MD of promoter Kennedy Street, emphasized that while the concerts were creatively successful, “theatres do need to be able to be open to their full capacity in order for concerts to be financially viable for promoters and artists.”
It chimes with what both LW Theatres owner Andrew Lloyd Webber and CEO Rebecca Kane Burton said in a Sept. 8 parliamentary hearing in London, in which politicians sought advice on reopening the country’s struggling venues.
Lloyd Webber said that he had been wondering why airlines, for instance, were allowed to operate at full capacity but that he hasn’t yet received a satisfying answer from government representatives.
When asked about the risks to public health by reopening too early, Lloyd Webber answered that there was risk involved in everything but that it must be weighed among all factors.
“A million people out of work poses risks as well,” Kane Burton added.
LW Theatres has furloughed about 60% of its staff. The government furlough program is to end in October, and all witnesses at the hearing agreed that the industry would be in trouble then without a green light to proceed with shows.
Commenting on the Van Morrison concerts, Kane Burton said: “Seeing Van Morrison on stage at The London Palladium was a real 2020 highlight. Opening our doors enabled us to offer much-needed work to our brilliant team; as hundreds of thousands in the live sector continue to face hardship and uncertainty.
“We demonstrated that we can operate safely, and that people will feel comfortable, confident and, more importantly, excited to be back with us. Live performance up and down the country can and must continue.”