Applause on Pause

Jack Fleming  

As Ireland exits a second lockdown and we welcome another new normal with the reopening of cinemas, restaurants and gastro-pubs, there are still some sectors that are being forced to stay closed. 

Those working in the arts  feel that they’ve felt the force of lockdown more than most. Live performances have been brought to a standstill due to the social distance measures, which makes live productions virtually impossible. 

Amateur theatre practitioner Danielle Mangan was in full rehearsal mode with Newbridge Musical Society preparing for their rendition of Westside Story before COVID hit. 

During the first lockdown in March,  it was impossible to fundraise for the musical, an obvious blow to the company. Mangan said: “It upset the whole cast and crew as we’ve all dedicated time and worked so hard.” 

Newbridge Musical Society announced that the play would be rescheduled and would take place in April 2021 . A statement on their Facebook page said: “We would have loved to stage this show later in the year but due to financial strain on the Society it would be impossible. 

However, in October they made the difficult decision to cancel their production of West Side Story: “The committee has been meeting frequently over the last number of months and has taken the decision to cancel”. This was largely due to the uncertainty surrounding the ability to fundraise and rehearse come next April. 

Westside Story’s dance rehearsals in action prior to Social Distancing measures being introduced.

Frustrated with the lack of guidance from the government, Danielle says: “Theatres should be able to open if the auditorium can block off some seats to permit social distancing. With the natural social distance between the cast and audience, there isn’t any reason to keep theatres closed.”

Newbridge Musical Society are looking forward to coming back when it’s safe to do so saying: “These are challenging times, but right now our priority is the health and wellbeing of our members and their families. We will be back, bigger and better than ever when it is safe to do so.” 

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