The London Palladium, one of the West End’s most prestigious venues, hosted its first patrons in more than four months last night as singer Beverley Knight performed in a test event.

The famous venue was limited to 30-per-cent capacity, meaning a crowd of around 640, with strict social distancing and sanitation rules applying.

Visitors wore mandatory face masks, had staggered arrival times, filled out NHS test and trace forms and preordered drinks for in-seat service. Their temperatures were taken with thermal imaging cameras on arrival at the theatre, owned by Andrew Lloyd-Webber’s LW Theatres group.

The first row was removed to ensure a five-metre gap between the stage and spectators.

Speaking to the spectators from the stage, Lloyd Webber said: “I have to say this is a rather sad sight. I’m so grateful to you all for coming and being a sort of guinea pig like this.”

The gig was one of several test events due to take place in the coming weeks ahead of theatres being allowed to open from the start of August. The Government announced last week that it is working with the arts sector on the pilots with socially distanced audiences that will inform final guidance for venues in the run up to August 1.

London Theatre Direct

London Theatre Direct (LTD) has enhanced its support for customers to get back to theatre and reduce the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the West End with a rapid digital gift rollout.

The ticket seller’s digital gift voucher solution has been developed to offer ticket holders a refund alternative that could be included in its relevant email customer communications.

Using an API-driven approach to the integration, the ticketing provider integrated Eagle Eye’s SaaS-based AIR marketing platform into LTD’s bespoke ticketing technology to manage the real-time issuance and redemption of gift refunds.

When a customer opts to receive gift vouchers to redeem at a later date, the ticketing provider manages their request via the real-time issuance and redemption capabilities of Eagle Eye AIR.

Mark Prethero, commercial director at LTD, said: “Our development team found the large-scale, fast rollout straightforward and the results are beating expectations. We are looking forward to welcoming our customers back to the West End.”

Chinese basketball

Fans can return to China’s top-flight basketball league from this weekend with the competition’s official ticketing platform now allowing bookings.

The Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) said spectators can attend games at its Qingdao city hub in Shandong province from Sunday.

At present, bookings are limited to key workers including medical staff, teachers and public security personnel. Ticket sales for the wider public will officially resume for matches starting July 31, with all spectators only able to attend if they have obtained a virus test certificate within the previous 48 hours.

China’s basketball league season was suspended on January 24, and a proposed restart in April was abandoned due to fears over a resurgence of the Covid-19 virus. The season finally resumed on June 20 with matches played in two hubs, Qingdao and Dongguan.

Image: MrsEllacott (CC by 3.0)