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Troubadour Theatre and Brent ‘potentially setting a whole new route for the world to follow’ says Sleepless producer

PUBLISHED: 17:07 13 August 2020

Jay McGuiness, who plays Sam, and Jack Reynolds, who plays Jonah, in Sleepless. Picture: Ryan Howard

Jay McGuiness, who plays Sam, and Jack Reynolds, who plays Jonah, in Sleepless. Picture: Ryan Howard

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The curtain is soon to rise at the world premiere of a brand new musical taking place in Brent - the first indoor theatre show in England during Covid.

Michael Rose, producer of Sleepless, A Romantic Musical, at Troubadour Theeatre Wembley ParkMichael Rose, producer of Sleepless, A Romantic Musical, at Troubadour Theeatre Wembley Park

Sleepless, A Musical Romance, is due to start socially distanced indoor performances at the Troubadour Wembley Park Theatre from August 25.

Producer Michael Rose, the man behind big budget West End shows including Jesus Christ Superstar and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, is “excited”.

“The Troubadour is run by people I know and have worked with before in the West End,” he said. “The Troubadour has facilities that allow us to try something new without too much attention, although we have done completely the reverse with this because we’re the first show up in the UK, indoors.”

Having received good luck messages from friends in Broadway, New York, he added: “Not only do I know the whole of the industry is watching us here at the Troubadour in the UK, but also the whole of industry across the globe.”

Jay McGuiness, Kimberley Walsh and Theo Collis star in SLEEPLESS at the Troubadour Wembley Park. Picture: Matt CrockettJay McGuiness, Kimberley Walsh and Theo Collis star in SLEEPLESS at the Troubadour Wembley Park. Picture: Matt Crockett

Coronavirus has closed the doors of all theatres in the country and guidelines continue to stipulate they remain closed but Mr Rose hopes that this show will herald a “new normality” within the industry.

READ MORE: Rehearsals begin at the Troubadour Theatre with FRANKD covid testing on site

He praised the facilities at the theatre, which include “a large auditorium which means we can do social distancing, a large foyer so nobody is crowded so people can come into the building without feeling they are breaking any government guidelines”.

Drinks and merchandise are all cashless, the theatre is deep cleaned following each performance and “they have more toilets than other venues”, he added.

The 1,200-seat auditorium is being reduced to 401 and people will be seated in distanced “bubbles” according to how many seats they have bought.

Kimberley Walsh & Jay McGuiness in Sleepless rehearsals. Picture: Ryan HowardKimberley Walsh & Jay McGuiness in Sleepless rehearsals. Picture: Ryan Howard

“The facilities mean that we can probably do this here more than any other theatre in London at this time,” Mr Rose said.

“It’s a huge responsibility not just for myself and the company here on Sleepless but also all the people at the Troubadour Theatre Wembley Park who have been incredible to enable this to happen.”

He said the production, earmarked at just under £1 million, “will not be profitable”.

“The idea of doing this is to think long term by establishing a brand new musical with an American book writer and two new British writers, who are the composer and the lyricist,” he said.

Jay McGuiness and Kimberley Walsh in Sleepless rehearsals. Picture: Ryan HowardJay McGuiness and Kimberley Walsh in Sleepless rehearsals. Picture: Ryan Howard

“It’s really exciting and the borough should be really proud of itself for allowing and being part of this because they’re potentially setting a whole new route for the world to follow.”

He added: “What happens here in the next few weeks will determine what might happen across the globe in terms of theatre.

“It allows people, the fans of theatre, to be able to hear stories again. Live story telling has stopped around the globe. That’s something really important to us all, to be able to escape and that’s good for people’s mental health as well.

“This is a first stage back to a new normality and the sooner we can get back to it, the better.

“Somebody has to break the logjam of fear and we’ve got to show a safe and secure way forward if we’re ever going to return to a greater normality.”

Of the production itself, borne from the blockbuster film Sleepless in Seattle, he said: “I believe there’s never been a more appropriate first stage version of a show to follow coronavirus.

“The story starts with a loss of a family member, Tom’s wife has just died of cancer and left him as a one-parent family. His son Jonah, who is 10, just has his father.

“When you think of what’s happening to so many families because of coronavirus, families being torn apart, that’s basically what our story is about.

“It’s about tragedy at the beginning and how that family is put back together. I can’t think of a more therapeutic musical that will make you feel good, it will make you smile, it will make you laugh, it will make you cry, but it all ends up with a positive happy ending and that’s what we all need at the moment, some hope to hang onto as we move forward fighting this pandemic and who knows what in the future.”

Tickets from £17.25. Click here


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