VIRTUAL LOVE STORY ARRIVES ON STAGE AT BELGRADE THEATRE

Following the success of their exuberant co-production Wise Children in 2019, the Belgrade Theatre Coventry is set to virtually host another spectacular show from visionary director Emma Rice when Romantics Anonymous makes its digital debut this autumn.

Performed LIVE on stage at Bristol Old Vic, the critically acclaimed musical will embark on a virtual tour of UK and international venues from 22-26 September, with performances specially tailored to regional audiences each night.

Carly Bawden and Marc Antolin in Romantics Anonymous by Steve Tanner

Based on the film Les Émotifs Anonymes by Jean-Pierre Améris and Philippe Blasband, Romantics Anonymous is a delicious love story about breaking the mould and finding the courage to be happy. Produced by Wise Children, Bristol Old Vic and Plush Theatricals, it will be hosted online by the Belgrade Theatre on Wednesday 23 September.

Ahead of the show, Emma Rice told us more about the making of the show and boldly stepping into the unknown with their ambitious livestream plans…

After the disappointment of the Romantics Anonymous tour being cancelled how does it feel to share the work again, in an albeit slightly different way than expected?

It’s hard to describe how exciting this is. It feels like we are navigating an untrodden path – but one that leads to the familiar things we love and miss. It is a serious and daunting task, and there is lots of planning to be done (the safety of the company is our utmost priority), but when I imagine being in the theatre again, singing, dancing, laughing and even touching, my heart skips a beat!

How do you think a digital tour will help regional theatres at the moment?

Theatres miss audiences, actors, the box office they bring and the buzz they provide. This live broadcast can’t answer all the problems theatres are facing, but it does give some wonderful answers and more than a little hope.

Romantics Anonymous will create the buzz of a live experience, because it is one! The actors are singing and dancing as you watch – if something goes wrong, we will all see it and enjoy it! There will be no airbrushing or editing, it is truly live and the audience will feel that energy and excitement.

They will also feel like it is a shared experience; that others are watching at the same time – just like going to the theatre used to be. Also, if people book through their local theatre, a proportion of the ticket price goes to the venue, giving them much needed financial support.

Carly Bawden in Romantics Anonymous – credit Steve Tanner

The production is based on the film Les Émotifs Anonymes, what originally inspired you to adapt it?

Oh! This wonderful film had me from the start! It is such a tender and intoxicating love story, filled with anxieties and worries that all of us can relate to. It is quirky and surprising, but it is also refreshingly modern. It suggests that anything is possible if you bend the rules, dare to take a risk and allow yourself to love. It is romantic indeed, and just the feelgood story we all need in these difficult times.

What do you hope audiences will take from the production?

I hope the audience will take away a big helping of joy and a sense of community that is rare in these isolated times. I hope they will be left humming the tunes, with a skip in their step and a heart that is full to the brim with love, kindness and hope – is that too much to ask?

Carly Bawden, Gareth Snook, Sandra Marvin, Jane Matthewson, Harry Hepple and Brett Brown – credit Steve Tanner

The Belgrade Theatre were co-producers of the Wise Children tour in 2019. Are you glad to be working with them again?

My family live just outside Coventry and I am a proud Midland girl! I love Coventry and am always surprised and delighted by its incredible and diverse history. I am excited for our future adventures, especially with the City of Culture rapidly approaching!

Finally, how has lockdown been for you?

Like so many, lockdown has been tough for me. Theatre work vanished overnight, and we have all had to mourn the loss of many things. I also lost my beloved Dad during Lockdown, so have been mourning the loss of him greatly. Sad times, but I find myself grateful for many things, not least this chance to bring some light and joy back to the world, the people around me and, indeed, to my own heart.

Romantics Anonymous is hosted online by the Belgrade Theatre Coventry for one night only on Wednesday 23 September.
Tickets are available to book now at www.belgrade.co.uk.

Please note that box office phone lines are currently closed while staff continue to work remotely.

Main Image: Emma Rice – Copyright Guardian News Media Ltd 2018 

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