Financial Moves - The National Theatre has revealed it will need to “reduce activity levels in order to ensure financial stability” for the next three to four years, as it warns of the ongoing challenges it faces in its annual accounts for the year ending March 2022. The accounts show that its total income for the year until March 2022 was £80.8m, up from £56.3m the year before, but warn that high rates of inflation and increased energy costs are having a "significant impact" on its cost base. In the year before theatres were closed in March 2020, the theatre’s income was more than £100m.
In addition, it highlights a recent 5% cut to its annual Arts Council England funding, which was previously £17m but is being reduced by £850,000 a year with effect from this year. It also points to audiences being slow to return following the pandemic lockdowns, remaining about 21% down on pre-Covid attendance, and how "audience and consumer confidence is likely to be impacted by the cost-of-living crisis".
Future Theatre - The Society of London Theatre has revealed plans to launch a membership category to help identify and support early and mid-career producers and "future industry leaders". The associate membership programme is aimed at identifying producers and future industry leaders in London who are not eligible for other categories of SOLT membership.
SOLT said it hoped the programme would encourage applicants from groups who have historically been under-represented within the organisation over the past 114 years of its history, to ensure "that the membership becomes more inclusive and representative of society in its broadest sense and reflects the people of London". The programme will run for two consecutive years, supporting six individuals per cycle in becoming associate members.
Big Eurovision Welcome - Tickets to the largest concert to kick-off Eurovision celebrations in Liverpool will be made free, the National Lottery has announced. The 30,000-capacity show will be held outside St George's Hall on 7 May, before the song contest's semi-final on 9 May. Tickets to the contest itself sold out in 90 minutes after huge demand.
The National Lottery promised "high-profile performances" but said the line-up was a "closely-guarded secret". The group said it was working with Culture Liverpool to "come up with a fantastic show that does justice to one of the world's great musical capitals". Up to 15,000 pairs of tickets for The National Lottery's Big Eurovision Welcome will be made available to lottery players in early April.
Top of the World - Chandrabose and MMM Keeravaani won the Oscar for best song for Naatu Naatu and riffed on The Carpenters' hit song Top of the World which featured in RRR, the first Indian feature film to be nominated for anything other than best international film at the Academy Awards. Best original score went to All Quiet on the Western Front and Top Gun: Maverick took the Best Sound award.
West End Extensions - The Phantom of the Opera and Les Misérables have both announced extensions in the West End until March 2, 2024. Lucie Jones was recently announced to return to Les Misérables at the Sondheim Theatre as Fantine from 27 March, with the show now booking until early 2024. The Phantom of the Opera has also announced its extension until the same date at Her Majesty’s Theatre.
Being Frank - A musical based on the life and career of Frank Sinatra will have its world premiere at Birmingham Rep later this year, directed by Kathleen Marshall. The show is written by Joe DiPietro, whose credits include What’s New Pussycat? and Memphis, and will run at Birmingham Rep from 23 September to 28 October. Its debut in Birmingham coincides with the 70th anniversary of Sinatra’s 1953 tour, which saw him perform in the city.
DiPietro said: “Growing up, there were two pictures hanging in my grandmother’s kitchen: the Pope and Frank Sinatra. So, to sit down with Tina Sinatra and hear stories of her father that no one else knows, and then to be able to put those stories on stage – well, I think it’ll make for an unexpected and thrilling new musical.”
(Jim Evans)
13 March 2023

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