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Sleepless A Musical Romance announces further cast and trials on-site Covid-19 tests

First Published 20 August 2020, Last Updated 24 August 2020

Sleepless A Musical Romance, which announced last month it would begin socially distanced indoor performances at the Troubadour Wembley Park Theatre from 25 August, will begin using a new accurate COVID-19 test on cast, musicians, crew and theatre staff on a daily basis during rehearsals and during the run of the show.

The test is called FRANKD (Fast, Reliable, Accurate, Nucleic-based Kit for Covid19 Diagnostic Detection). Testing will be carried out on-site, since the FRANKD technology does not require a laboratory. Tests results will be sent directly to crew, cast and staff phones via a secure app within an hour of a swab being taken.

Michael Rose and Damien Sanders, on behalf of Encore Theatre Productions, the producers of SLEEPLESS, said: “We are so excited to be leading the way for our industry and to be the first fully staged, indoor musical back up and running and we have been working around the clock to make it possible. Uppermost in our minds has been the safety of our cast and crew and this new fast and accurate technology from GeneMe allows us to lead the way once more with daily COVID testing of our cast and crew which can give everyone involved peace of mind and create a happy and safe working environment. This technology is currently being trialled by airports, government departments, sports teams and multinational companies in the UK and we are delighted to be the first to trial the system in the theatre and live event industry.”

The FRANKD test is a Nucleic Acid Amplification Test (NAAT), which is recommended by the WHO for testing for SARS-CoV-2. FRANKD has been shown to have 100% specificity and 97% sensitivity for detecting SARS-CoV-2 according to independent laboratory tests. FRANKD is available for sales across the EU and UK and carries the CE IVD mark for a diagnostic test.

Scientifically speaking, FRANKD tests for the presence of SARS-CoV-2 RNA. A nasal or throat swab is used to sample potential viral material in the same way as standard RT-PCR testing. However, FRANKD uses Loop-Mediated Isothermal Amplification (LAMP) technology. This means the FRANKD testing process is much simpler than the RT-PCR process as no RNA purification is required. This means any viral material from the swab can be directly tested, saving both time and cost. It also means FRANKD does not need much of the technical laboratory equipment of the RT-PCR tests, so businesses can test on-site using a portable testing machine.

To streamline the process, tests can be securely assigned and results shared to people’s phones using a free ID app from Yoti, which is already producing digital ID cards for the NHS. The Yoti app is designed to protect people’s privacy, with the company unable to track people or share their data without their consent.

Carlos Candal, owner and CEO of Global Marketing Group (GMG) who put the GeneMe and Yoti teams together to bring this solution to market, said, “Having known about Yoti for some time, once I saw how they can work hand in hand with FRANKD to offer a solution for the Global Theatre industry, I’m thrilled that SLEEPLESS will be the first to use the technology to help get theatres up and running again safely.’’

Kasjan Szemiako, Chief Technical Officer of GeneMe and developer of FRANKD, said: “We expect GMG, Yoti & FRANKD will help create fast, effective testing and Safe Spaces all over the world. Many sectors, including healthcare, pharmacies, hotels, airports, theatres, factories and corporates and smaller businesses, all need accurate, fast, on-premises testing.”

Robin Tombs, Co-founder and CEO of Yoti, added: “We are delighted to be working closely with SLEEPLESS to ensure that fast, regular, easy testing can be completed on premises with the ability to add results to the Yoti app of the tested person.”

SLEEPLESS, A Musical Romance, based on the original story and screenplay of the rom-com classic Sleepless in Seattle, will premiere at the Troubadour Wembley Park Theatre, London on Tuesday 1 September 2020, with previews from 25 August. The limited season will run until Sunday 27 September 2020. Audiences will be socially distanced and the producers and venue will follow COVID-secure guidelines for cast, crew and audiences.

The producers are also holding a special NHS Gala, A Night for Sleepless Heroes, for NHS and Care workers on Thursday 27 August. Due to unprecedented demand, the performance is now full.

SLEEPLESS is a new musical with a book by Michael Burdette and music and lyrics by new British writers Robert Scott and Brendan Cull and will feature a 12-piece jazz orchestra. It was originally due to begin performances on 24 March 2020, prior to the UK Government shutdown of theatres.

Joining the previously announced Jay McGuiness as Sam and Kimberley Walsh as Annie will be Daniel Casey as Walter, Harriet Thorpe as Eleanor, Tania Mathurin as Becky and Cory English as Rob. Also in the cast are Charlie Bull, Colin Burnicle, Christie-Lee Crosson, Laura Darton, Leanne Garretty, Matt Holland, Ross McLaren, Gary Murphy, Dominique Planter, Annie Wensak and Benjamin Wong. Theo Collis, Mikey Colville, Jobe Hart and Jack Reynolds will share the role of Jonah.

SLEEPLESS tells the heart-warming tale of Sam, who moves to Seattle with his ten year-old son, Jonah, following the tragic death of his wife. When Jonah phones a radio show, Sam is forced to talk about his broken heart and sleepless nights live on air, and he suddenly finds himself one of the most sought after single men in America and a great news story for feisty journalist Annie on the opposite side of the country. Can Jonah bring the two together on the top deck of the Empire State Building? A fresh and lively book alongside a brand-new musical score bring this most timeless of romantic comedies to life on stage.

The spacious venue means that there will be no physical contact between the staff and audience at any time and that social distance measures can be strictly obeyed. Audiences will be temperature checked on entering the building and will be requested to wear face masks. All food and beverage orders will be contactless to minimise exposure, hand sanitiser will be available at multiple locations, and all areas of the venue will be thoroughly deep cleaned after each performance.

As well as Troubadour Wembley Park Theatre being a new and spacious theatre, there is ample parking available at Wembley Stadium, which costs only £1 if you are a theatre ticket holder.

People within the same household and/or social bubble may buy up to four tickets together. All tickets will be allocated by the box office. Please note that, up to two hours before the performance, people may exchange their tickets, should a member of their party fall ill.

If you loved the movie or are a huge rom-com fan, check out the trailer and grab your tickets now!

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