Theater Round-Up: Broadway, London Shutdowns Extended, Anthony Boyle and Noma Dumezweni Interviews and More!

Jun 01, 2020

Posted by: Dawn Johnson

Actor Interviews, Anthony Boyle, Broadway, Fandom, Fans, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, HP Cast, Interviews, News, Noma Dumezweni, Round-Up, Sonia Friedman, Staunton, Theater, Theater Round-Up, West End

This week’s theater news centers largely around the ongoing shutdown. Both Broadway and the Society of London Theatres announced closure extensions, and Sonia Friedman published a feature discussing the impact on the performing arts. The reach of that impact postponed Imelda Staunton’s upcoming show and prompted BBC’s and Belfast’s Lyric Theatre’s partnership and lockdown dramas. Additionally, both Anthony Boyle and Noma Dumezweni participated in interviews about their stage careers and recent projects.

Read on for all the details!

Broadway Shutdown to Continue Through Labor Day

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The Broadway League announced that the shutdown of Broadway theaters will now continue through Sept. 6, though the Hollywood Reporter speculated that projected target might come back under consideration as the date nears.

Theaters originally closed on March 12, hopeful they would reopen a month later on April 12. That shutdown was later extended to June 7.

Charlotte St. Marti, president of the Broadway League, commented:

“While all Broadway shows would love to resume performances as soon as possible, we need to ensure the health and well-being of everyone who comes to the theater — behind the curtain and in front of it — before shows can return…The Broadway League’s membership is working in cooperation with the theatrical unions, government officials and health experts to determine the safest ways to restart our industry. Throughout this challenging time, we have been in close communication with Gov. [Andrew] Cuomo’s office and are grateful for his support and leadership as we work together to bring back this vital part of New York City’s economy — and spirit.”

According to the Hollywood Reporter, the Broadway League announcement followed a similar West End extension from the Society of London Theatres which stated that London theaters will reopen no earlier than June 28. The report suggested that is unlikely to be a hard target for reopening and expected cancellations to continue through the summer.

Read the full Hollywood Reporter article on the shutdown extension here.

Sonia Friedman Issues a Plea for Government Aid

sonia-friedmanSonia Friedman contributed another editorial piece to the Telegraph recently to discuss the impact of the ongoing shutdown of theaters around the world and its impact on the performing arts industry and community. Friedman wasted no time getting to the point, laying bare the financial hardship theaters have faced from lack of revenue and the difficulties that will be faced in reopening, and rebooting, productions.

She stated her case plainly, saying:

“Without an urgent government rescue package, 70 per cent of our performing arts companies will be out of business before the end of this year. More than 1,000 theatres around the country will be insolvent and might shut down for good.

“The loss is inconceivable. What we take for granted has taken generations to create. It would be irrecoverable. We need our government to step up and step in – sharpish. There is no time to waste.”

She reviewed the impact of theaters on cities’ restaurant and tourism revenue. Friedman mentioned, too, its influence on culture, social outreach and on fledgling actors and actresses who “cut their teeth on the stage.” She concluded solemnly, calling for government recognition of the industry’s contributions and the value of ensuring its survival, saying:

“Like never before all these organisations are vulnerable. They are inextricably interconnected: a cross-country network of artistic collaboration. Once gone, British theatre is lost for good. An ecosystem as intricate and evolved as ours, shaped over 70 years, is beyond price. It cannot be rebuilt from scratch. As of now, without support, it is in grave danger.

“Protecting and preserving what we have will cost far, far less than reconstructing it from the ruins. It is time to act.”

Though the theater is by no means the only industry affected by the current pandemic, Friedman speaks as one with intimate knowledge of and affection for the performing arts, having shutdown her own company and 18 productions. She knows what is at stake if it fails and hopes others will also deem it worth saving.

Read Friedman’s full Telegraph article here.

Imelda Staunton’s Hello, Dolly! Postponed

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Playbill reported that Imelda Staunton’s scheduled turn in Hello, Dolly! has been postponed. The production was originally set to begin preview performances Aug. 11 with an official opening on Aug. 27. Producers Michael Harrison and David Ian issued a joint statement about the situation, saying:

“Whilst we are naturally disappointed that we aren’t able to stage the show this summer, we are completely committed to Hello, Dolly!. We do not want to compromise the length of run, so postponing until the time is right and schedules permit is the best option, but plans are already underway for the new season, which we will announce as soon as we can. Dolly will most certainly be back where she belongs.”

They did not specify a date for the new opening of the production. For fans who already purchased tickets, be aware that points of purchase will reach out regarding refunds.

BBC and Belfast’s Lyric Theatre Partner to Produce Dramas in Lockdown

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Harry Potter and the Cursed Child’s Anthony Boyle will be one of many participating in a BBC and Belfast Lyric Theatre endeavor which will produce six dramas for a Splendid Isolation: Lockdown Drama. According to the Stage, each drama is written by a different Northern Irish playwright and will also be directed by a Northern Irish director.

Lyric Executive Producer Jimmy Fay said:

“All of the 20 artists involved have a connection to the Lyric Theatre and have responded to our invitation to create for this project with imaginative, versatile and provocative pieces. We are also delighted that some of our very best theatre directors like Emma Jordan and Des Kennedy are getting their TV directorial debut with this wonderful partnership.”

The five-minute pieces will explore “the positive and negative effects of social isolation caused by the Covid-19 pandemic” and will air on BBC2 Northern Ireland in June, followed by BBC4. The dramas will also be available for viewing on iPlayer.

Anthony Boyle The Plot Against America on Playbill’s Stream Stealers

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Former Cursed Child star Anthony Boyle is currently appearing in HBO’s The Plot Against America and joined Playbill’s Stream Stealers to discuss the series, as well as his stint on Broadway.

Speaking of the role, Boyle said:

“Even though I wasn’t Jewish or from New Jersey, there was just something I had a real affinity with, I think maybe his moral compass or something. I just really felt like he just wanted to do what was right at all costs even if the difference between, you know, being good and being liked–you know, he wanted to be good and I just, I really thought was it that was cool.” 

As for becoming immersed in the alternate version of WWII America, Boyle observed:

“I mean, they had to sort of give me a crash course on what baseball was…I was asked to say something about an RBI double, and I mean, it was 20 minutes of me going, ‘Right, so he hits the ball and then, why is he running away?’…There was just a lot of confusion…

“There was a lot of scenes of us doing Passover and things, so I went and I experienced my first Passover, and I just felt like, [it’s] a beautiful rich culture, and I’m sort of slightly obsessed with religion. [I] grew up Irish Catholic and going to the church every week so I loved all sort of religious iconography and stories and parables, and I’m not practicing or anything, but I just love it.” 

After speaking in more depth about the series, the conversation turned to Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, which brought Boyle a Tony nomination. He reflected on his time on Broadway, saying:

“I do love it. It was just a singular experience in my life, and I’d love to go back; it was just really special. I think it’s, Broadway’s just in a league of it’s own. It’s just a complete, just, theater mecca. It’s just an incredible place. I’d love to go back–that thrill of buzz of just being around…the culture around there.”

Boyle certainly was brilliant in the magical production, and we do hope he returns to Broadway again. Watch the full Stream Stealers episode below!

Noma Dumezweni on Seven Stages Audible Interview Series

Noma Dumezweni, who also starred in the original Harry Potter and the Cursed Child production in London, joined the Seven Stages podcast, sponsored by Audible, to discuss her stage career.

According to the Stage, the interview touches on the following:

“Seven Stages explores Dumezweni’s extraordinary life and extensive stage career – from arriving in the UK as a refugee in 1977 to her beginnings working in theatre in education productions and winning her first Olivier for her performance in A Raisin in the Sun at the National Theatre. She also discusses the life-changing period in 2015 when she had to step in at the last minute to replace Kim Cattrall as the lead role in Linda at London’s Royal Court, before being cast in Harry Potter only a few days later.”

The episode is currently available in its entirety at Audible!





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