Sondheim Remembered - The lights in London's West End were dimmed on Monday night as theatres payed tribute to US composer and songwriter Stephen Sondheim who has died aged 91. The composer and lyricist, famous for creating the musical Sweeney Todd, was described as one of theatre's "greatest geniuses" after his death on Friday.
Sir Cameron Mackintosh said the world had "lost one of its greatest and most original writers". The theatrical producer renamed his Queen's Theatre venue after the composer in 2019. During his illustrious career, he wrote the scores of some of Broadway's best-known shows including Company, Follies and A Little Night Music. He also wrote the lyrics for West Side Story.
In The Courts - Two ticket touts who made millions of pounds reselling tickets to theatre shows and gigs including Harry Potter and the Cursed Child have had appeals against their conviction rejected. The decision is being hailed a "major milestone" in the fight to clean up the secondary ticketing market and could have "far-reaching ramifications" for other online touts, experts have said.
Peter Hunter and David Thomas Smith were convicted on multiple counts of fraud in 2020, after reselling hundreds of sought-after tickets at inflated prices for events including Harry Potter and the Cursed Child in the West End, as well as Ed Sheeran and Madness gigs.
They used nearly 100 different names, 88 postal addresses and more than 290 email addresses to evade restrictions set up on primary ticketing platforms that limit the number of tickets purchased by one person, before selling those tickets on secondary sites at higher prices. In one instance, the pair bought up more than 750 tickets to Sheeran’s concerts. They appealed against their convictions on all counts. However, on November 26, the Court of Appeal dismissed the appeals and ruled that their convictions were "entirely safe". It means Hunter and Smith, who together ran BZZ Limited, will serve their sentences, amounting to four years and two and a half years respectively.
Mandatory Masks - Face coverings will become mandatory for audiences attending Royal Shakespeare Theatre performances, it has been announced. The RSC said the measure would affect everyone visiting its Stratford-upon-Avon premises except those under 12 years of age and those who are exempt. The policy will come into effect on Tuesday. The move comes after feedback from audiences and staff, the RSC says.
"Our priority is creating the safest and most comfortable environment for people to work in and visit, and we want to do all we can to ensure that we do not have to cancel performances and disappoint our audiences," said executive director Catherine Mallyon.
Back Home - Sir Elton John has announced two homecoming shows at Watford Football Club. The singer will play at Vicarage Road in July to finish the European leg of his Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour, which he says will be his last. Sir Elton became chairman of the club in 1976 and now has the role of honorary life-president at the Premier League club. He said: "I simply had to play Vicarage Road a final time."
Postponed - Pop group Steps have postponed the remainder of their UK tour due to positive Covid-19 cases in their touring party. The move comes just days after it was revealed singer Lee Latchford-Evans tested positive for coronavirus. His positive test result came on the same day that bandmate Faye Tozer had been allowed to return to the stage following her own Covid isolation. With further cases emerging, Steps said continuing the tour was "impossible". They added they were "disappointed" that this week's shows in Cardiff and Bournemouth would now have to be re-arranged for some time next summer, but noted that safety comes first.
Exotic Premiere - A stage adaptation of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel will premiere next year with a UK tour. Written by Deborah Moggach, whose novel These Foolish Things inspired the 2012 film starring Judi Dench, Bill Nighy and Maggie Smith, the stage version will be directed by Lucy Bailey. The production will premiere in August 2022 at the Richmond Theatre, before embarking on a UK wide tour until December 2022.
(Jim Evans)
30 November 2021

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