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Jessica Koravos feels “impatient,” describing the last 18 months as “one big obstacle course — both physically as we’ve navigated the new world of COVID impacts and protocols and emotionally as we have tried to keep our casts and crews and corporate teams together from afar. The hardest part about it for me has been the constantly shifting finish line.”
Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Really Useful Group was the only company to run a major live show through the pandemic. “The Phantom of the Opera” world tour opened March 13, 2020, in Seoul, South Korea, and continued through Busan and Daegu before transferring to Taiwan in December 2020. This experience enabled sister company LW Theatres to conduct a COVID-safe pilot event in the U.K. based on the strict safety measures demonstrated in Korea.
Koravos thinks “that the venue business and live entertainment generally will continue to inform and educate government on the safety and professionalism of our operations, and also our economic contribution — in the U.K. alone, music and theater together employ 1 million people and contribute 11 billion pounds to the economy — and that is before you start to consider our pivotal place in the social fabric and mental health of our society.”
On the OVG side in the U.K., things have been “full steam ahead” with the planning and construction process of the new Co-op Live arena in Manchester, England. “As it happened, the pandemic really didn’t slow us down much there,” Koravos said. On the theater side, her biggest priority has been the Aug. 18 launch of “Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cinderella,” the first major new musical since lockdown. It marked the biggest accomplishments in her career so far.
Koravos has been taking every chance she can to go out to shows and concerts since the U.K. went full capacity July 19. “People are literally sobbing with relief to be back in the room with the music they love,” she said. “I don’t think that artists or audiences will ever take each other for granted again.”
“People are literally sobbing with relief to be back in the room with the music they love. I don’t think that artists or audiences will ever take each other for granted again.”