‘Fingers crossed’ - Hippodrome performers anxiously hoping the show will go on
- Credit: Sonya Duncan
Normally performers at the Hippodrome in Great Yarmouth would be disappointed with an audience of only fifteen people.
But for Johnny Mac, comedian at the venue’s Summer Spectacular, the dress rehearsal on Wednesday afternoon (August 5) “felt like playing Wembley”.
Mr Mac, from Scotland, is part of a group of entertainers including acrobats, trapeze artists, dancers and fire-eaters who were assembled in the space of two weeks to thrill audiences this August and September.
The show was originally scheduled to begin on August 1, but after a last-minute government U-turn delaying the reopening of theatres for another two weeks, the performers have had to wait, and bite their nails.
Back in March Mr Mac had packed his bags and was ready to come to Great Yarmouth to perform at the Easter show but then the country went into lockdown and all performances were called off.
When, last month, it looked possible the Hippodrome would be able put on a show this summer, he was in the town within 48 hours.
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“Just doing this dress rehearsal felt like performing to a thousand people. I feel like I’ve been reborn,” he said.
“It’s a strange experience being a live performer or comedian. We crave that audience.”
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Jack Jay, ringmaster and producer, said the last few weeks have been “a real rollercoaster ride”.
At the start of July, it looked like the circus would be able put on a show this summer and he quickly assembled a group of perform.
It was during what was supposed to be the final dress rehearsal last Friday (July 31) the team learned of the government’s U-turn.
“It was crushing,” Mr Jay says, “but we’re now hoping it will come back on the 15th.”
It would be “tragic” if the show could not go ahead, he said.
While adapted to the current restrictions, with a shorter running time of 80 minutes and no interval, this year’s summer spectacular is the Hippodrome’s typical thrilling mix of comedy, acrobatics, trapeze artists, dancing, fire-breathing and other daring acts.
But will people get to see the show?
Government guidelines currently indicate theatres will reopen on August 15.
“Fingers crossed,” Mr Jay says, “fingers crossed.”
The Summer Spectacular is scheduled to run until September 20.