Here's how to get your theatre fix while social distancing.
All the world’s a stage. That’s what William Shakespeare said. Since he’s arguably the world’s greatest playwright and April is his birthday month, we’ve decided to take those words to heart.
Acting out even just a short scene from a play or musical can be an uplifting experience, especially if you love dressing up and pretending to be someone else.
So while theatres are shut, here’s an opportunity to bring the stage closer to you. It doesn’t matter if you’re alone or with your partner… and if you’ve got several flatmates or a huge family, all the better!
Below we’ve put together a list of iconic moments from the most popular productions in the West End, along with suggestions for easy costumes and props.
Now it’s your turn to get creative. Use your imagination to deliver a show-stopping performance that’s sure to delight any audience – from your household to all your social media followers. And we’d love to see it too, just post a photo or video to us on Twitter.
Lin-Manuel Miranda’s historical hip-hop musical Hamilton has taken the West End by storm since opening in 2017. Crammed full of great songs and speeches, this is your shot to be part of the story about one of America’s most influential founding fathers.
Cast needed: One person as Alexander Hamilton. Any extras can play Aaron Burr and the witnesses, just be ready at the end of the monologue to all say, “He aims his pistol at the sky” and then yell, “Wait!”
The Scene: Born a penniless orphan in Saint Croix, Hamilton was George Washington’s right-hand man, became Secretary of the Treasury and helped shape a new nation before finding himself in a duel with his life-long frenemy.
Costume: Welly boots pulled up over a pair of tracky bottoms, a dress shirt (try to add a ruffle if you can) and a navy blazer. Last but not least, pull your hair back into a ponytail – or make a fake one.
Props: You’ll need something shaped like an 1800s-era pistol. Perhaps a banana?
Iconic speech to deliver: Perform the soliloquy in The World Was Wide Enough that ends with the line “Raise your glass to freedom”.
Andrew Lloyd Webber is unveiling his complete re-invention of the classic fairy tale Cinderella later this year. While we wait to meet the modern heroine, you can still use Disney’s beloved 1950 and 2015 films about the sweet orphan girl who dreams of happiness for inspiration.
Cast needed: One person as Cinderella. Any extras are welcome to be the wicked stepmother and stepsisters as well as shout things like “Cinda-wench”.
The Scene: Cinderella is scrubbing floors, washing clothes, doing dishes or, if you live in the country, hauling water from a well. Generally, she’s busy serving her awful, ungrateful stepfamily.
Costume: Any dirty, wrinkly or raggedy item of clothing, which means you can probably just keep on whatever you’re wearing. A scarf or handkerchief folded in half and tied around your hair also adds a nice touch.
Props: Grab a sponge from the kitchen sink, a mop or any other objects used for housework. Maybe also cut a few pieces of cheese to feed your little friends – some imaginary (we hope) mice.
Song to belt out: While encouraging her animal besties to never stop dreaming, she sings A Dream Is A Wish Your Heart Makes.
Holed up with your significant other? As we’re celebrating The Bard this month, there’s no better time to re-enact Romeo & Juliet’s balcony scene. It means you’ll get to portray the most famous star-crossed lovers ever – a totally smitten couple who must remain apart.
Cast needed: Two people as Romeo and Juliet.
The Scene: A pair of teenagers fall in love at first sight, but because they come from two feuding families there are some mighty big obstacles in the way of their relationship.
Costumes: If you’re Juliet put on something with long sleeves that looks like a gown. Enhance it with jewellery or gold-coloured embellishments and do your hair in plaits. Romeo should sport tights, a dress shirt and any hat with a feather on it.
Props: You’ll need to create a balcony of sorts. A staircase will work, but if you don’t have anything elevated, Juliet could just stand behind the sofa.
Iconic speeches to deliver: Act 2, scene 2 is the central moment in this play. Romeo begins with “But soft, what light through yonder window breaks?” and by the end of it they have declared their love and resolved to be married.
Alternatively: Prefer to do a modern take on Romeo & Juliet? Take inspiration from & Juliet. The pop spectacular offers a retelling of the couple’s ill-fated destiny. Instead of Shakespeare’s original lines, this hit West End musical features Juliet on the aforementioned balcony bursting out with Katy Perry’s female empowerment anthem Roar.
Based on Gregory Maguire’s best-selling novel, Wicked has been enchanting West End theatre goers for over 13 years. Be part of one of the greatest musicals of our time by conjuring up the unlikely friendship between two sorcery students who ultimately become the Wicked Witch of the West and Glinda the Good.
Cast needed: Two people as Elphaba and Glinda.
The Scene: After Glinda travels to Elphaba’s castle to warn her of danger, both discover sad news and forgive each other past grievances.
Costumes: For Elphaba, put on all-black clothes, make a pointy black hat and, if possible, apply forest green makeup to your face and hands. For Glinda, pull out your most extravagantly pink and sparkly outfit, add more bling and craft a crown and wand.
Props: A broom and any book.
Song to belt out: After Elphaba gives a magical spell book called The Grimmerie to Glinda, they embrace and say goodbye forever while singing For Good.
If anything can transport you to a fantastical world it’s The Phantom Of The Opera. One of the most popular musicals of all-time, it premiered in in London in 1986 and has been entrancing audiences all around the world ever since.
Cast needed: Two people as Christine and the Phantom. An extra can play Raoul and chase after them while begging for Christine to be spared.
The Scene: In a jealous rage the Phantom essentially kidnaps Christine and takes her to his underground lair in the sewers deep beneath the magnificent Paris Opera House.
Costumes: As the Phantom you’ve got to own the role of a disfigured madman, so go either half or fully masked and make sure you’ve got some sort of black cloak. Christine, on the other hand, should look ethereal and have on something white and excessively lacy that resembles a dressing gown.
Props: In a best-case scenario you have a kayak or rowboat in your garage, but otherwise a pool raft or anything two people can sit in – be it a wagon or a giant box – will do. Then just find a long pole, a lantern or flashlight… and if you can get hold of a block of dry ice, you’ll truly nail this haunting scene.
Song to belt out: In this tale of unrequited love, the titular anthem The Phantom Of The Opera is utterly mesmerising.
Photo of The Phantom Of The Opera, London, 2017 courtesy of Johan Persson
The winner of four Olivier Awards, Come From Away tells the true story about a tiny Canadian town at the northeast tip of North America that played host to the world. While we all have to stay apart, it’s great to celebrate this musical’s message of coming together in times of tragedy.
Cast needed: Three people or more – basically a small cast plays several roles with simple costume changes.
The Scene: When 9/11 struck, 38 planes carrying 7,000 passengers to different parts of the US were grounded in Newfoundland. The nearby community of Gander not only gave them the warmest of welcomes, but also housed and fed them while forging life-long friendships.
Costumes: Among the townsfolk are a pilot, the mayor, an animal shelter manager, a teacher and the police constable. Wear whatever clothes you feel like, with character changes being as easy as adding a blazer, hat or sweater as well as pinning on a badge if you’re playing the constable.
Props: A small table and several chairs – ideally ones you don’t mind standing on. Got some furry friends in your home? They can have a part as one of the stranded animals which include an epileptic cat and two rare Bonobo apes.
Song to belt out: The rousing opening number Welcome To The Rock. Make sure to do a lot of foot-stomping and thigh-slapping, plus raise your arms frequently and then close your hands into fists.
The musical Mary Poppins brings the marvellous PL Travers’ book and Disney film to life. A high-flying story, get swept up in depicting the magical nanny who helps bring a family back together again.
Cast needed: Five people as Mary Poppins, Mr & Mrs Banks plus their children Jane and Michael.
The Scene: At the end of the musical after George Banks realises his family is more important than his job, he fixes his son’s kite and takes the whole family to the park to fly it.
Costumes: Mary Poppins should wear a long skirt, frilly blouse, apron, lace-up boots (with feet always turned out at a 90-degree angle) and a hat with a flower on it. The Banks family should be smartly dressed – as if they were going to a Sunday church service.
Props: An umbrella with a parrot head, a small bag from which giant-sized things might emerge and, of course, a kite.
Song to belt out: Let’s Go Fly A Kite is a song that everyone enjoys and never gets old. If you have a backyard, head outside… and if you don’t, well, try not to break anything inside.
Last but not least, when you’re ready to present your scene, make sure the atmosphere is right.
Need a curtain? Simply hold up a blanket. You can also dim the lights before and after your performance.
Be sure to take a bow when it’s over, and remember there are no theatre critics at home, so don’t worry about getting things perfect.
If you need more inspiration, head over to our Theatre Guide.