A few days ago, Andrew Lloyd Webber presented a pilot performance at the London Palladium to show how live performances inside theatres could look like. Here’s some of the reaction from those who were there…

The London Palladium in 2019.

WhatsOnStage: “an important but early stepping stone on a very wide and treacherous river. The battle isn’t just about making shows logistically safe, but convincing audiences that it will be fine for them to press into an enclosed space without social distancing. That road will take a whole lot longer, and even a few percentage points off average attendance can be the difference between a viable production and a risky one.”

The Stage: “Theatres of various shapes and sizes should be able to operate safely using social distancing and the other measures introduced at the London Palladium. Most of these measures are entirely practical for theatres to implement and they do little to dent the theatregoing experience – even face coverings are put-uppable with. Social distancing, however, is really not: it completely rips the life out of things.”

cfrycentrestage.wordpress.com: “While we are all desperate to get back into our beloved venues, we all know this must be done safely. This was of course never going to be an easy task, but one thing is clear, Lloyd Webber and his team have stepped up and have taken the challenge by the horns.”

LondonTheatre1: ” If this is the new normal, it will take some getting used to. Your mask must be on at all times. Even if you’ve purchased a drink, you must wear your mask between sips. This raises a discussion about how effective a face mask is if it is repeatedly adjusted (put simply, if you’re adjusting your mask, you might touch your face, which is not ideal), but that is the rule. The interval was half an hour – though with much to discuss, it felt shorter, and with one-way routes throughout the building and social distancing, there was even a queue for the gents. An in-seat drink service reduced queues at the bars, serviced by staff in the aisles with menus and card machines.”

The Guardian: “The mood was jubilant. One visitor, Kirsty, who works in marketing, said she used to go to the theatre once a week and was “pleased that this is being tested and that we’re moving forward”. Alex, 24, a recent graduate from musical theatre school, was attending with her mother. They said it was a critical time for the industry Alex is entering and they were glad to be taking part in the experiment.”