Public are ‘ready’ to return to theatre, says actor starring in outdoor show

The public are “ready” to get back to watching live theatre performances, an actor starring in an upcoming outdoor production of Jesus Christ Superstar has said.

The Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre will stage its production of Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s stage show from Friday.

The London venue has reduced its normal capacity of 1,256 down to 390 to allow for social distancing.

Ricardo Afonso, who plays Judas in the show, told the PA news agency: “It is fantastic to have the opportunity to put this show back on stage and to just have the opportunity to sing and act and see an audience in front of us.

“From an audience point of view, I think people are ready now for theatre.”

He added: “We hope the audience are as pumped up as we are because we are ready to go.

“Looking around in people’s eyes, I don’t see much panic, I see people confident and ready to go.”

Jesus Christ Superstar: The Concert will run until September 27.

From August 19 to 30 the performance will also be relayed to up to 5,000 additional ticket holders seated on a lawn away from the theatre.

Declan Bennett, who plays Jesus in the production, said that being back on stage “feels like a gift”, adding: “I feel very grateful.

“The majority of our business is still kind of on hold, so to have this opportunity in this beautiful place where I have worked before, I feel very lucky.”

He added that the performances “probably will feel more intimate in a lot of ways”.

According to the theatre’s website the reduction in capacity “makes producing any large-scale show economically extremely challenging, particularly as we are an unfunded organisation”.

Last month the Government announced an easing of lockdown restrictions which enabled live outdoor performances to go ahead.