Andrew Hilton

Musical Director – 9 to 5 Musical – The Savoy Theatre, London

“When we left that day, we were totally convinced we’d go back for the last five weeks maybe and we’d have the new cast go in. I mean, all my stuff is there – my laptop’s there my suit, my clothes – because I was utterly convinced it would be a month and then…The first time I saw this image it really hit me. I just thought “God, that’s so sad!” Although, it looks very clean: I thought it would look like Miss Haversham’s place. I think it’s sadder because we’re now not going back.

We were all watching the news backstage and throughout that last day and because Broadway had closed a few days before, it felt imminent but I didn’t ever think it would be this…permanent. We didn’t get confirmation until about quarter to seven so we were all doing warm-up and people were saying “Do we put pin curls in?” and Bonnie [Langford] was stretching her legs. The audience arrive at half past six so we could hear the bustle in the bars and we were thinking ”do we do one more show?”. They must have been so disappointed after looking forward to it for months, getting babysitters in, maybe they had been out to dinner too. When we left, we all headed to the pub. It was surreal. It felt a bit naughty – like when school closes because of the snow.

It was inconceivable that it would be longer than a month and the fact that 9 to 5 didn’t even reopen before it closed – we couldn’t even grasp that as a concept – and now people are saying it could be February next year and that seems normal. For the group of people I work with, we’ve lost 9 tours, 6 Pantos and 2 West End shows and only 3 of them have mentioned coming back next year. If the shows all decide to open in January we’re in trouble: we cant be in six different places at once.During the first few months I was thinking that this was a once in a lifetime forced holiday: press Ctrl+alt+del and reset because we all work too hard! I just took this opportunity to walk the dog for an hour, two hours a day and sit in the garden. I’ve got a brilliant housemate and on a random Wednesday we’d sit in the garden and have cocktails at two in the afternoon. Of course it coincided with Bank Holidays and Easter – but that holiday feeling has worn off now.I was walking through Bromley the other day and it was like an Apocalypse. All the shops still have Mother’s Day Displays and Easter Displays. You’re so used to that changing overnight. When I see a 9 to 5 poster I just feel heartbroken. They should all be gone by now.

I’m not worried about going back into the Theatre because I believe I’ve had the virus but I would have to do some research to find out if I can still carry it because then I would feel worse about it. The distancing thing does bother me because I love comedy and humour and I think you wouldn’t laugh or enjoy something as much if you are one of 400 people spread over 3 layers in a venue that holds 1200 or so. Flights I’m more worried about because you’re just breathing that recycled air for 3 hours or so. I hope that if people go back to pubs and bars in a week or so when they reopen that by September they will be ready to go to the Theatre. Won’t they? I just hope people aren’t too scared to let go, to sit and enjoy it – to lose themselves in it like they used to.”

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