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Regent’s Park Open Air theatre to launch summer season with Romeo and Juliet

The Guardian - Thu Apr 8 10:32

Regent’s Park Open Air theatre in London has confirmed the lineup for its summer season after receiving a grant of more than £800,000 from the government’s culture recovery fund.

The theatre will present extended runs of Romeo and Juliet, directed by Kimberley Sykes, and the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical Carousel, directed by Timothy Sheader. There are also two shows for children aged over three: Dragons and Mythical Beasts, written by Derek Bond, and Anansi the Spider by Justin Audibert, which was previously staged at the Unicorn theatre and adapted for a popular online series during the first lockdown.

Last summer, 30,000 people visited the Open Air theatre after it reopened to socially distanced audiences with a programme that included Jesus Christ Superstar. This year, there will be an initial 50% reduction in seating capacity. Sheader, the theatre’s artistic director, said the lack of regular public funding means the financial challenge of producing large-scale shows at half capacity is huge.

The grant of £828,274 from the £1.57bn recovery fund has helped to cover the loss of income from its planned production of 101 Dalmatians, which was cancelled in January. Reduced audiences from social distancing meant that it was unviable to produce an “ambitious new musical with complex puppetry and large ensemble cast”.

As it stands, theatres in England are due to reopen from 17 May. Romeo and Juliet will run from 17 June to 24 July, followed by Carousel from 31 July to 25 September. Dragons and Mythical Beasts opens on 13 August and runs until 5 September. Anansi the Spider will have daytime performances on the theatre’s lawn from 7-24 July. The theatre will also present standup comedy from Aisling Bea, Jimmy Carr, Luisa Omielan and others. Tickets go on sale on 23 April.