On Sunday we went to the last preview of Sleepless, A Musical Romance starring Jay McGuiness and Kimberley Walsh at the Troubadour Wembley Park Theatre and we want to share our socially distanced experience with you.
As most of you know, Sleepless is the first fully staged musical to open inside a theatre since all the venues sadly closed back in March due to the coronavirus pandemic and they’ve put measures in place to ensure they follow the Government guidelines of social distancing and enhanced hygiene and safety procedures.
We got to Wembley Park Station on the Jubilee Line (as Central Londoners do), masks on and hand sanitiser at the ready just in case we touched any questionable surfaces. As we left the station, the brightest Sleepless banner confirmed what our trip to north-west London was for: to witness the new ‘Musical Romance’ in this socially distanced seating and COVID-19 secure venue which, by the way, was the first time we were visiting.
As we got to the theatre, there was a small queue to get in with marks on the floor to ensure we kept the two-meter distance with other people (as you usually see now in supermarkets, cafés, etc. – new normal? I hate that expression) and the front of house greeted us with a smile that we could see through a plastic window in their masks, clever huh?
Although we wonder if they have these special masks so people don’t run away thinking they’re about to mug them since the first thing they do is point a gun to your head.
But fear not! That gun is just a cool thermometer to make sure you don’t have a fever – temperature of 37.8ºC or above? Back to bed – not going to be sleepless after all!
Once our temperature was checked and they made sure we had masks, we were allowed into their outdoor area with a bar and some seating where we had to scan a QR code and provide our contact details for NHS Track and Trace. This way, should there be an outbreak, they could contact us so we self-isolate and help contain the spread of the virus.
At this point, we joined another socially distanced queue to show our tickets on our phone for them to be scanned (woohoo, loving contactless transactions now!). Just in case you forget for a second that the pandemic ever happened, there are plenty of signs reminding audience members to wear their face coverings at all times fully covering mouth and nose – so no excuses!
Just before we got in, there was a poster with more information to help people feel secure. It read:
“This is a COVID secure venue. Please follow guidance and directional signage to keep everyone safe and socially distanced. Our cast, crew and staff are tested for COVID-19 on a daily basis and are ‘bubbled’ for their safety. Unfortunately, there will be no cast interaction at the stage door pre or post-show.”
Sorry stagey friends, no meeting the cast for now!
After scanning our tickets, we got into the indoors bar and merchandise area, which is quite spacious and had markings on the floor directing us to the different spaces so we followed a kind of one way only system. Here you can see what we mean:
Following the directions towards the auditorium, another front of house member checked our seats and allowed us in, and what a sight! The stage is quite big and the seats are all marked with crosses to ensure that everyone sits in their designated socially distanced one. It’s quite sad really to think of the loss these empty seats mean, but we’re happy that at least this way the show can go on!
After finding our seats, the show began and we forgot everything about the virus, the pandemic and the whole crisis we’re currently living. After all, isn’t that what theatre is all about?
Based on the original screenplay Sleepless in Seattle, Sleepless, A Musical Romance starring Jay McGuiness and Kimberley Walsh is now playing at the Troubadour Wembley Park Theatre for a limited season until 27 September. Book your tickets HERE.