Beyond the Pandemic: London's West End readies for next act

Full Screen
1 / 15

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved

A general view of the exterior of the Apollo Theater, which is preparing to continue its run of the musical "Everybody's Talking About Jamie' in London, Thursday, April 8, 2021. The coronavirus pandemic has devastated British theater, a world-renowned cultural export and major economic force. The theaters in London's West End shut when lockdown began in March 2020, and have remained closed for most of the past 13 months. Now they are preparing, with hope and apprehension, to welcome audiences back. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)

LONDON – Noah Thomas saw his name in lights, and then the lights went out.

The young actor was still in drama school when he was cast to play the lead role in the London West End musical “Everybody’s Talking About Jamie.” Thomas made his professional debut in early 2020. Weeks later, as the coronavirus pandemic washed over Britain, the city's theaters closed.

“It was a bit of a rude awakening,” Thomas said. “As the months ticked on — month one, month two, month three — you think, ‘This is a lot bigger than any of us could have anticipated.’”

More than a year on, the West End is preparing, with hope and apprehension, to welcome audiences back.

__

Plagues, fires, war — London has survived them all. But it has never had a year like this. The coronavirus has killed more than 15,000 Londoners and shaken the foundations of one of the world’s great cities. As a fast-moving mass vaccination campaign holds the promise of reopening, The Associated Press looks at the pandemic’s impact on London’s people and institutions and asks what the future might hold.

___

The pandemic has devastated British theater, a world-renowned cultural export and major economic force.