Kimberley Walsh hopes theatre return brings comfort for fans

Walsh stars in Sleepless alongside The Wanted's Jay McGuiness.

Kimberley Walsh said she hopes the return of theatre performances provides comfort to fans following months of closures due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The former Girls Aloud singer is starring alongside The Wanted’s Jay McGuiness in Sleepless, a musical based on the original screenplay for classic 1993 rom-com Sleepless In Seattle.

It is playing at London’s Troubadour Wembley Park, with social distancing measures in place and temperature checks for staff and customers upon entry.

Sleepless: A Musical Romance
Kimberley Walsh is tested for Covid-19, one of the safety measures introduced for the run of musical Sleepless at a London theatre (Yui Mok/PA)

Walsh said she hoped the return of theatre performances – albeit under heavy restrictions – would give fans a boost.

She told the PA news agency: “It’s just comforting for people to know that theatre is coming back and it’s moving in the right direction.

“It’s been a while of people at home worrying about the industry and where it’s going to be in a year’s time, and so I hope it puts people’s minds at rest a little bit just to see it’s physically possible and safe to put a show on if you do it correctly.”

Theatres across the UK closed their doors in March in a bid to halt the spread of coronavirus. The Government gave the go-ahead to socially distanced indoor performances in England last month.

Due to the social distancing measures, the capacity of Troubadour Wembley Park has been reduced from 1,300 to 400, according to Sleepless: A Musical Romance producer Michael Rose.

Sleepless: A Musical Romance
Jay McGuiness and Kimberley Walsh star together in Sleepless, which has opened in London following months of theatres being closed (Yui Mok/PA)

A strict cleaning regime has been implemented in the theatre and Rose said the reduced capacity means the production “may just about break even”.

McGuiness said the cast wanted to make theatre-goers “comfortable”.

He told PA: “Tonight we felt like we were on our best behaviour. A lot of eyes are on us and we want everyone to feel comfortable and safe.”

He added: “Our producers always made it clear that as soon as it was safe we’d be back to work, so we had regular contact and our cast were constantly Zooming and Housepartying and all the rest of it. So I feel like we always had a continuous light at the end of the tunnel.”

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