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England: Beverley Knight pilots socially distanced gig at London Palladium

London, UK: Theatre fans in London got a taste of how live performances might work in the future at a socially distanced pilot show featuring Beverley Knight.

640 people were allowed into the concert at the London Palladium on Thursday (July 23) designed to test and showcase COVID-19 safety procedures in place at the venue. With only 30 percent of the 2,297 seats occupied and audience members in face masks, British singer Knight said performing was an ''odd experience''. ''You can't read people's expressions. You can't feel what they're feeling,'' she said in an interview after the concert.

The London Palladium is one of seven theatres owned by composer Andrew Lloyd Webber's theatre group, LW Theatres. It hopes that the 110 year-old building will become home to popular musical "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" from July 2021.

Theatres in the UK have been closed since March his year, due to the coronavirus pandemic. According to the UK government, indoor performances can resume from August 1, but social distancing rules apply as well as guidelines to protect performers.
Andrew Lloyd Webber said in an interview that operating with a socially distanced audience is not economically viable.
''I mean, the average play needs a 65 percent capacity, really, a musical needs more. But that's before, you know, it even starts to repay anything," he said. "So we've got to get to a pilot where we don't have social distancing, which is why we put all these measures in at the Palladium, not to prove - I must stress this, not to prove that the Palladium can work, it's to prove that every venue can work," added Lloyd Webber.

As well as some happy members of the public who praised the safety measures put in place, Thursday's event was also attended by industry and media guests.

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