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Sydney’s major theatres cancel performances after COVID-19 outbreaks

Sydney’s major theatres cancel performances after COVID-19 outbreaks
December 27, 2021

A surge in the Omicron variant of the Coronavirus has hit live performances in Sydney, with the musicals Hamilton and Come From Away and Opera Australia’s Great Opera Hits and rehearsals for La Boheme affected.

With Omicron casting a long shadow over the holiday period, the latest blow to the live performance sector has seen outbreaks within companies causing the cancellation of shows.

The hit musical Hamilton, which only resumed shows in October after losing more than 130 performances during lockdown, has had to cancel another 14 shows from 22nd December to 2nd January.

As reported by the Sydney Morning Herald, the producers sent an email to ticket holders advising “in response to positive COVID-19 results from within the Hamilton company the entire production staff are undergoing precautionary COVID-19 testing.”

Shows are due to resume on 5th January, with the musical about American founding father Alexander Hamilton playing at the Lyric Theatre until 27th February.

The producers of Come From Away have cancelled performances from 26th to 30th December at the Capitol Theatre “due to recent cases of COVID-19 amongst the company”.

Come From Away also had to shut from late June to late October during lockdown.

Opera Australia has cancelled performances of Great Opera Hits at the Sydney Opera House from 26th to 28th December and suspended rehearsals for La Boheme ahead of its New Year’s Eve performance.

Opera Australia Chief Executive, Fiona Allan said there had been an outbreak across the company, in “almost every aspect of the business” including singers, before Christmas. This had happened despite requiring everyone to be double vaccinated, wear masks in the office and daily testing.

Allan told the Sydney Morning Herald “we’re having a break from rehearsals to allow ourselves to get through the isolation phases of a number of members of the company who have had confirmed COVID.

“A couple of weeks ago we’d never had a case then, all of a sudden with Omicron, we started getting cases.”

Since COVID forced the company to cancel its winter season, it has needed more than $10 million from the Federal Government’s Arts Sustainability Fund to stay afloat.

It plans to go ahead with La Boheme On New Year’s Eve - a production set in the bohemian streets of 1930s Berlin - then continue the season from 4th January.

Sydney Festival, which has more than 130 shows and events scheduled to start from 6th January, has not been affected so far.

A spokesman said the festival would be proceeding as planned in consultation with NSW Health, commenting “any changes to the program will be actioned and announced as needed but at this stage venues remain at full capacity.

“We’ll be monitoring the situation, working closely with government and will follow any advice or orders should this change.”

Other live performance companies will be closely watching the Omicron spread before their seasons start. Sydney Theatre Company, which had to cancel 335 performances nationally because of the pandemic, is due to open its next production, Triple X, on 8th January.

Image: The cast of Hamilton. Credit: Lyric Theatre, Sydney.

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