Photo credit: Noah Thomas and Sejal Keshwala in Everybody’s Talking About Jamie (Photo courtesy of Everybody’s Talking About Jamie)

Nica Burns on BBC Radio 2: “I will be opening my six theatres at 50% capacity”

Nimax Theatres' chief executive spoke to Jeremy Vine on the radio about theatres.

Sophie Thomas
Sophie Thomas

Ahead of the 2021 Budget which will be giving over £400m to theatres, Nica Burns spoke on BBC Radio 2 about the future of opening shows at theatres nationwide. This expands on an interview last week, giving more detail as to which shows will open first.

On The Jeremy Vine Show, Burns said that she's "desperate to open up and welcome people back and get all the jobs back for our lovely actors... At least now, we have a roadmap but a lot of the theatres can't open... some of the big shows are too expensive and yet, we don't have a government insurance scheme to do that."

When talking about the eventual reopening of theatres, Burns was quick to stress the financial implications. She said: "At the moment, you can only have 50% audiences. We can open from May 17th but only at 50% social distancing. Although we have no earlier date to open at full capacity, we don't know if we're gonna hit that yet, because we've gotta hit all 4 steps to feel that it can be safe to go up to 100% capacity.

"I will be opening my six theatres at 50% but I'm not going to be opening it with any of the big shows like Harry Potter [and the Cursed Child]... so I'm gonna be putting on concerts that can be."

Burns did tease as to which musicals could be the first to open again, saying "As you come down Shaftesbury Avenue, you will see Everybody's Talking About Jamie and Six, who are opening with social distancing from May 17th, so there is good news there."

Questioned about the elusive 21 June date, when theatres can reopen without social distancing, Burns stressed that: "You can't open earlier than June 21st, but only if we have hit all the four steps that the government said needs to be done. You can't start planning to open on June 21st with these big shows, because we don't know for certainty that they can be open... The big shows will be coming back later and theatres around the country are going to do their very best at opening up with smaller shows that are socially distanced."

Nica Burns is the chief executive of Nimax Theatres, who own six West End theatres: Apollo Theatre, Duchess Theatre, Garrick Theatre, Lyric Theatre, Palace Theatre and Vaudeville Theatre. Currently, theatres will be able to reopen to a socially distanced audience from 17 May, as stated in the roadmap.

You can listen to Nica Burns speak to Jeremy Vine on Radio 2, with the interview around the 1 hour 8 minute mark

Photo credit: Noah Thomas and Sejal Keshwala in Everybody's Talking About Jamie (Photo courtesy of Everybody's Talking About Jamie)


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