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Nimax Theatres to open West End theatres in sequence from 22 October with social distancing

First Published 13 September 2020, Last Updated 14 September 2020

Nimax Chief Executive Nica Burns said: “On the six-month anniversary of the last performance in the West End I am delighted to announce that we will be switching on all our lights and re-opening with a special season of fantastic entertainment.  First up from 22 October to 8 November at the Apollo Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue is This is Going to Hurt written and performed by ex-NHS doctor Adam Kay. His first performance on Thursday 22 October is a free performance for NHS staff only. Tickets are on sale now at www.nimaxtheatres.com as is registration for NHS staff to enter the ballot for their free performance.

Our programme of special shows will reopen each of our six theatres prior to the return of our brilliant long running shows. Details of this special season of shows will be announced by their producers over the next fortnight.”

The producer of Nimax’s biggest long running show, the renowned Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Sonia Friedman said:

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child will definitely return to the West End once social distancing has ended, the Palace Theatre can safely and viably play to full capacity 8 times per week, and we have a government backed insurance scheme. Whist we are desperate to be back as soon as possible, given the sheer scale, expense and complexity of our magical show we will need many months’ notice to reignite our huge production, build a box office advance and give everyone enough time to plan.

Nica Burns continues: “Also returning in due course are Everybody’s Talking About Jamie (Apollo theatre), Magic Goes Wrong (Vaudeville theatre) and The Play That Goes Wrong (Duchess theatre).

For our special season, our theatres will open with social distancing plus robust risk mitigation to comply with current government COVID-19 Secure guidelines. Although with reduced capacities it is not possible to make a profit, we will be earning a contribution to our costs. With the furlough support scheme ending on 31 October, this income will help us retain Nimax’s highly skilled, experienced workforce and give work to some of the talented tapestry of freelancers onstage and backstage. We will also be able to support some of the many teams and businesses which together give our audiences a night to remember. Our theatre community cannot wait to get back to work safely.

As culture secretary Oliver Dowden wrote this week, ‘…theatre is a lynchpin of London’s West End and its absence is painfully reflected in its deserted streets.’  Even with reduced capacities at our theatres, we can entertain over 20,000 customers a week who we hope will re-energise the beating heart of our city, particularly the cafes, bars and restaurants that are an essential part of the fabric of the West End. Ticket sales for those venues that have managed to open so far, both outdoor and indoor, have been strong and we cannot wait to welcome audiences back safely.”

Adam Kay says: It’s extremely heartening that Theatreland is starting to gear up again. The people you see on stage are the very tip of the theatre iceberg – behind the scenes are hundreds of hard-working staff – from electricians to stage managers to lighting techs to box office to carpenters – huge numbers of whom fell between the gaps of government support. I’m very proud to return to the West End, following the extraordinary efforts of Nimax to do so in a way that’s safe for staff and theatregoers alike, and doubly proud to open the run with a free show for NHS staff, who can clearly do with a night out more than anyone.


Why is Nimax opening at a loss?
Like all businesses, Nimax looked at their business strategy post 31 October when the furlough scheme ends.  As part of this, they looked at the financial and human cost of large-scale redundancies.  They preferred to put the potential redundancy monies towards employment rather than unemployment. When they then fully open, they will have their fantastic workforce in place saving the cost of recruiting again. With this plan Nimax will not be making a profit but will be earning a contribution to their costs post-furlough which will enable them to achieve 4 key aims:-

  • Jobs:  Save the jobs of Nimax’s experienced, highly skilled and valued full time theatre staff teams as well as central management staff teams. They will also be hiring front of house and performance staff. Total jobs 355 plus.In addition, a significant number of freelancers will benefit and freelance jobs will be created or reactivated: actors, musicians, creative teams, stage management, wardrobe plus affiliated sector businesses such as marketing, press and technical hire companies.Everyone in the theatre community is desperate to get back to work. Nimax Theatres would like to thank their fantastic staff team and all our freelancers who were working in their theatres. They would also like to thank the three theatre unions BECTU, Equity and the MU who are working collaboratively across our industry to help us reopen.
  • Assist the stimulation of London economy: Even at a reduced capacity, Nimax will be attracting a significant number of customers into the West End stimulating the local economy in our area, particularly cafes, bars and restaurants.
  • Fulfilling audience demand: Nimax will be helping to fulfil a pent up demand of audiences who wish to return to theatres as demonstrated by our (SOLT/UK Theatre) latest audience survey  from Morris Hargreaves and McIntyre,  where 72% of audiences surveyed said they were looking forward to the thrill of seeing something live. Nimax can’t wait to welcome audiences back to experience a fantastic night out.
  • Consumer confidence: Nimax want to help build up consumer confidence with a return to central London and indoor entertainment spaces. They are proud to display the new industry See it Safely mark to show that our venues are compliant with the latest government guidelines.

Why can Nimax Theatres open when other theatres cannot?

The economics of their business model: they are the smallest of the 4 large West End theatre owning companies.  The smaller the theatre and the shows it presents, the lower the costs.  Hamilton, The Lion King, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s new musical Cinderella are very expensive to run (both show and theatre) on a weekly basis.  Conversely, costs for The Play That Goes Wrong in Nimax’s smallest theatre, the 500 seat Duchess, are substantially lower.

Special reopening programming: Nimax will be presenting special programming to be announced separately prior to the re-opening of our long running shows.

These shows are:

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (Palace theatre) – performances are currently suspended until Sunday 21 February 2021

Everybody’s Talking About Jamie (Apollo theatre) – performances are currently suspended until 11 November 2020

Magic Goes Wrong (Vaudeville theatre) – performances are currently suspended until Sunday 15 November 2020

The Play That Goes Wrong (Duchess theatre) – performances are currently suspended until Sunday 18 October 2020

What help does the theatre sector need from the government?

For the theatre to survive, we need the following:

  • End of social distancing: to reopen as quickly and safely as possible without social distancing and at full capacity. As the larger shows take time to remount, we need a date as soon as possible.
  • Extension of the JRS and self-employed support schemes:  for theatres, businesses and freelancers who cannot open with social distancing.
  • Insurance: a scheme on the same lines as that already agreed with cinema and TV sector.
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We are so sorry that in these testing and difficult times you are not able to enjoy the show you have booked for and hope the following helps clarify next steps in respect of your tickets .

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We’d like to thank everyone who has been patient and kind in dealing with their ticket providers so far and we are sorry that we cannot process your order as quickly as we would like.

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In order for us to serve our audiences the best we can, please do not get in touch with your point of sale if you have booked for performances after 31 May. Please be reassured that if we have to cancel future performances you will be directly contacted by your theatre or ticket provider. Our producers continue to plan for all eventualities dependent on the individual needs of their shows and we will provide further updates on specific shows as and when they become available.

We look forward to welcoming you back into our theatres as soon as we are allowed to resume performances. In the meantime stay safe and healthy.

While theatres are currently closed, various venues and productions are making announcements for their individual shows, including cancellations and rescheduled performances. Please check with the individual shows for details.