Looking forward to the return of live entertainment

  Posted: 14.07.21 at 20:54 by Philip Evans

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“Things will never be the same again.” How many times have you heard people say that, especially as we are now coming out of lockdown and looking forward to Freedom Day?

I have friends who tell me they will never go to the pub again. Or eat out. Others say they intend to continue wearing face mask in shops.

Me? I’m not a great pub man but I will be raising a glass or three when I catch up with some of my mates with whom I haven’t shared a drink for nearly two years.

Me an my family eat out quite a bit and I write quite a few restaurant reviews, so I am looking forward to visiting some of the new eating out venues that have opened in the area.

What I am looking forward most is getting back into a theatre to see a live show, or a film.

Entertainment has been hit as hard as any sector. Many are losing tens of thousands of pounds every week and may not survive, despite financial help from the government.

But Praise the Lord! In just a few days theatres and cinemas will be able to fully open their doors and the orchestras will strike up again as the curtains rise.

I worked in London for a number of years and saw many of the West End shows. After receiving my MBE at Buckingham Palace from Prince William (a day I shall ever forget), followed by a family lunch at one of celebrity chef Mark Hix’s restaurants, we all went off to the theatre to see 'Mamma Mia!'.

It was the perfect ending to a perfect day and we strolled back to our hotel, down Fleet Street in the rain, a bit like Gene Kelly, arm in arm with my two daughters.

No one would pretend that East Devon is a hot spot for live entertainment, although The Gateway (formerly Seaton Town Hall) has brought a great variety of shows to the town, as has the Marine Theatre in my hometown Lyme Regis.

Technology has developed tremendously in recent years allowing top productions in London to be streamed live to the shires.

Shortly before lockdown I saw the National Theatre’s award-winning production of 'One Man, Two Guvnors', starring James Corden, which kick-started the comedian’s rise to fame in the States.

You could well have been in the West End and all for the ticket price of £11. It would have cost £60-£70 in London.

Before lockdown, we were never short of a locally-produced shows from one of the amateur societies, the standard of which has improved tremendously in recent years. Although having covered the amateur stage for the best pat of 55 years, you can imagine I have seen some dross.

Of course, Lyme, Axminster and Seaton all had cinemas in the dim and distant past – The Regal in Seaton, The Plaza in Axminster and The Regent in Lyme, the latter being closed for the last five years after a serious fire, destined never to rise from the ashes.

One of the fears of the entertainment industry is whether the theatregoers will return in the record numbers experienced before COVID, especially as there are so many ways available today to receive films and music into your front room or even onto you mobile phone.

The explosion of TV channels has also meant that within weeks of a film being launched at a glitzy red carpet, you can be watching in your own front room. There has never been a greater choice.

I will always look upon a trip to the theatre as a treat. A bit of escapism is good for the soul. It may take a bit longer to get used to the new normal – but I’m sure it won’t be too long before the blockbuster hits return to the West End or, if we are lucky, streamed into our local theatre.

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