Last Farewell - Amid much publicity, Elton John played the last UK show of his farewell tour at Glastonbury, watched by a crowd, estimated to be over 120,000 people. A record 7.3m people tuned in to watch live on BBC One, according to initial ratings. That was the biggest ever overnight audience for a Glastonbury set, the BBC said. In comparison, last year Diana Ross was the most-watched star with 3.1m and Paul McCartney's headline set was seen by 2.7m. "It's a very special and emotional night for me as it may be my last show in England, in Great Britain," said the singer.
Meltdown - Soaring temperatures forced the cancellation of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - The Musical at the New Wimbledon over the weekend. As temperatures rose above 30C, the venue said its priority was to protect theatre workers. In a statement posted on social media, the theatre said: “Due to outside temperatures in excess of 30C and its impact on working conditions on stage, we have reluctantly taken the decision to cancel today’s performance of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.”
It added: “The safety of our staff and visiting company is of the utmost importance to us. We deeply apologise for any inconvenience caused." Last summer, union Equity issued guidance to help producers and venues keep workers safe during hot weather. It advised modifying strenuous choreography and minimising the use of lighting rigs prior to a show. In 2022, musical Six introduced pauses during the production to allow its cast to rehydrate and stay cool. Equity warned that health and safety legislation did not state any “maximum indoor or outdoor temperatures for work, and the circumstances for safe working are considered on a case-by-case basis”.
More Wireless - Wireless Festival will be allowed to take place in Finsbury Park every summer until 2027, despite opposition. Haringey Council has signed a five-year deal with the festival's promoter, claiming it will raise "significant income" for the north London park and boost the local economy. The annual event was previously arranged year by year.
The Friends of Finsbury Park local group opposed the move and said there would be no benefit to local people. The group has previously complained about noise levels, drug taking and anti-social behaviour at the festival and attempted to stop the events. The rap and urban music festival, which draws crowds of up to 50,000 people per day, has been held annually in the park since 2014, with the exception of 2020 and 2021 when Covid-19 restrictions were in place.
Swift Tickets - Taylor Swift has announced international dates for her record-breaking Eras tour, with shows set for UK, Europe and Asia in 2024. The pop star will play nine shows in the UK, with concerts in Edinburgh, Liverpool, Cardiff and London.
The first leg of the tour has seen her play to record audiences in the US. Demand for the tickets was so high that it overwhelmed Ticketmaster's systems, with thousands of fans left unable to obtain seats. The fiasco led to Ticketmaster being hauled in front of US senators to answer questions on the company's handling of the event. For the UK dates, fans have been invited to register interest via Swift's website, although those who tried to do so after the announcement were put in a long queue. After registration closes, fans will be sent a purchase link for tickets.
Then Play On - Skegness and Coventry are among five towns and cities entering a new partnership with the Royal Shakespeare Company to boost arts engagement for young people, as the company pledges to boost touring in areas of "structural disadvantage". The RSC has announced an expansion of its Associate Schools Programme, with Skegness, Coventry, Hartlepool, Peterborough and Corby joining 16 other partners in the initiative.
The Associate Schools Programme sees the RSC partner with schools in areas of socio-economic disadvantage to boost engagement with Shakespeare. It is open to primary, secondary and special state-maintained schools in England, and involves one lead associate school in each area recruiting up to 10 associate schools to form a ’community of practice’. Young people taking part in the programme will have the opportunity to perform Shakespeare’s work and take part in a Playmaking Festival in Stratford-upon-Avon and in festivals across the country.
(Jim Evans)
27 June 2023

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