Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre has confirmed it will reopen for performances, including a concert staging of Jesus Christ Superstar, later this summer.
Operating at a reduced capacity of 30% to enable social distancing, the venue will become one of the first in London to reopen following lockdown, with plans to stage 70 live performances during August and September.
These will include a concert staging of its Olivier award-winning production of Jesus Christ Superstar and a programme of comedy from Rob Beckett, Russell Brand, Kerry Goodliman, Judi Love, Jimmy Carr and Russell Kane.
Mischief Theatre will revive its improvised show Mischief Movie Night for a one-off date, while the line-up also includes a comedy fundraiser for London food banks.
Casting for the 90-minute concert version of Jesus Christ Superstar has not yet been announced, however the shows will run from August 14 to September 27 on Tuesdays to Sundays, with matinees on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays.
The theatre has postponed its main 2020 season until next year, however executive director William Village said the government’s announcement that outdoor theatre could return meant the team had "been working round the clock to find a way to open".
"With social distancing, seating capacity has been dramatically reduced to 390 seats, down from 1,256. This makes producing any large-scale show economically extremely challenging, particularly as we are an unfunded organisation.
"Nevertheless, both for us as a venue, and the industry as a whole, we believe it is incumbent upon us to do everything possible to reopen this year, and we’re delighted to announced this special concert staging of our award-winning production of Jesus Christ Superstar," he said.
In order to comply with safety regulations, Village said the measures that will be implemented include socially distancing performers, enhancing cleaning and mandatory face coverings and temperature checks for audiences.
The theatre will operate with a one-way system for visitors, while all ticketing and payments will be paperless.
Artistic director Timothy Sheader said despite recent developments, this year "continues to be an incredibly challenging time for everyone working in the theatre industry".
He added: "I’m heartened that we have been able to start work again with a number of our colleagues and to employ over 140 people, including 70 performers and freelancers, at least for a brief period this summer.
"However a clear and specific timeframe for the reopening of the rest of our industry, together with the complete and safe removal of social distancing measures in all venues, remains critical to secure the future of the arts in the UK."
Jesus Christ Superstar: The Concert is produced by William Village and Timothy Sheader for Regent’s Park Theatre, by special arrangement with the Really Useful Group.
Earlier this week, the Donmar Warehouse confirmed that it too would be opening this summer, with a socially distanced sound installation voiced by Juliet Stevenson.