Theatre Royal Windsor director thanks customers as curtain rises for first time since March

The Theatre Royal Windsor celebrated an ‘emotional evening’ on Tuesday after the curtain was raised for the first time since March.

The theatre reopened with a production of the A.R Gurney play Love Letters starring Judge John Deed’s Martin Shaw which premiered on Tuesday night.

“It’s the longest the Theatre Royal has been shut since the Second World War,” said Jon Woodley, co-director at the Theatre Royal.

“It was quite an emotional evening for everyone,” he added.

To comply with social distancing and safety measures, every other row of seats in the theatre were left vacant alongside gaps between families and bubbles.

The theatre has also installed hand sanitiser stations.

“It was a really lovely experience and the audience enjoyed it so much and gave a big round of applause,” Jon said.

“It was a very touching and special moment in our history,” Jon said.

He described the months of closure as ‘horrendous’ where more than 100 staff were furloughed and bills still needed to be paid.

“It was costing us thousands of pounds a week for an empty building with no income,” Jon said.

Speaking about the national lockdown, he added: “That night we had ballet dancers warming up on stage and I had to go down and say I’m really sorry but we have to cancel the performance.”

The theatre collected around £50,000 from tickets donated by customers instead of a refund and about £70,000 from theatregoers who requested Box Office credit to purchase tickets for a new show when the doors reopened.

“The customers and audiences were fantastic,” Jon said.

“It has been horrendous and very, very tough but we’re back.”

The annual Christmas pantomime production of Cinderella will go ahead and the summer season – starring Sir Ian McKellen in Hamlet and The Cherry Orchard – has been postponed until next year.

“There’s lots to look forward to,” Jon said.

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