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“Dressing up” for the theatre in winter 2020 might now mean putting on an anorak, a woolly hat and gloves. While the chances of enjoying a full-length pantomime or a West End show remain very limited for many, ordering a performance, in the way you might order a cab or a takeaway, has become a reality.
This weekend, a collaboration between the ride-hailing app FreeNow and the theatre company Gideon Reeling will transport characters from the classic pantomime Puss in Boots to residential streets. Where once a big festive night out for the family might have involved a black cab ride in the centre of town, now the cast will do all the travelling before emerging from inside a cab on the pavement outside your home.
“Since lockdown began in March, theatre professionals have found their businesses decimated, with shows and pantos all over the UK cancelled. It’s been very hard for artists and audiences alike,” said Kate Hargreaves, artistic director of Gideon Reeling, a company that usually creates immersive and interactive shows. “We were really excited when we got a call asking us to be a part of a panto that turns up at the audience’s doors.”
The taxi app, which operates in cities across Britain, will deliver the cast, one by one, for a distanced show to those successful customers who apply via the website.
The news follows the arrival last week of Doorstep Productions, a travelling musicals service, courtesy of some of the leading names in British entertainment. The company, spearheaded by the award-winning West End star Maria Friedman, promises to bring moments from shows, such as Sound of Music, Mary Poppins or Les Miserables, to you, wherever you are.
The trend for street entertainment, so prominent across Britain and Europe at the beginning of the pandemic, has returned in a more organised form for the Christmas period.Local amateur dramatic groups are also inventing mobile productions, while choirs are planning to bring carols to those in search of cheer.
In Liverpool, the community interest company Holistic Harmonies will be taking a trio of singers out to isolated and vulnerable people. This group runs a GoFundMe page and aims to raise £5,000. So far, they have received more than 30 nominations from people wanting to organise what they call a “Musical Mood Boost” this Christmas.
Research carried out by Free Now, the firm behind the new “hail-a-panto” idea, found that two-thirds of Britons believe their community needs the performing arts more than ever, while over a quarter of those surveyed said they would miss their usual Christmas pantomime.
Friedman and her actor partner, Adrian der Gregorian, set up Doorstep Productions to help unemployed performers as well as theatre fans. Clients can discuss exactly what they hope to see – a torch song or a couple of rowdy showstoppers. Prices start at around £250 for a pair of fully costumed performers, with the possibility of going up six. The service is also offering Dickensian carol singing.
At the end of 2020, the old trouper’s adage “Let’s do the show right here!” has never been so apt.
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: Oh, yes you can! Pantomime returns to a doorstep near you | Coronavirus