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Here's what we can expect from live entertainment this year

news May 13, 2020

With restrictions set to ease gradually over the next couple of months and venues reopening, we're excited by what's in store. While we don't expect a return to major tours and packed-out venues this year (hello, 2021!) due to caution and audience sentiment, it's heartening to think that actors and musical artists will be stepping back on stage soon.

#1 (Almost) crowdless concerts

Michael Rapino, CEO of one of the world's largest touring promoters Live Nation, has said that the company will be starting "slow and small" over the next six months. The entertainment behemoth is looking into the logistics of reduced-capacity events and drive-in shows – similar to drive-in cinema. This concept has already been trialled in Denmark and Lithuania, with Danish singer-songwriter Mads Langer selling 500 tickets for his concert.

#2 Live streaming is here to stay

These last few months, performers have been forced to move their acts online and if the production value is there, we've seen that fans and audiences are willing to pay. Producer Carrie Hardie of Serious Comedy says "to put on a live show, you invest a lot of money – three, six, nine, 12 months in advance." While there are still costs involved in live-streamed events, a lot more of the ticket price goes back to supporting the artist. And if you love the interaction of live events, it's still possible when streaming, whether through waving your hands in the air to show appreciation (or laughter in the case of comedy), or comments via the live chat.

In terms of arena shows, live streaming a major concert opens up the possibility of fans from all corners of the world being able to attend. Those who want to attend in-person will still buy tickets but those who can't be there, whether due to cost or distance, will now be able to watch it live, from their screens.

It's likely that live-stream parties will become a part of our lives. Your mate who organises a Eurovision marathon viewing every year was onto something; imagine experiencing a one-off Bruce Springsteen concert direct from New York's Madison Square Garden, on the couch with six or seven of your friends.

#3 Musicals and plays are returning to our stages

We were devastated when some of our most anticipated musicals of the year were cancelled or postponed. However, many of the producers have been working behind the scenes to secure venues and we're expecting announcements of new dates soon. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, for example, will hopefully be allowed to recommence from July in Melbourne, while The Little Prince is tentatively pencilled in for October in Sydney.

Due to the cost and effort to put on musicals though, there may be fewer of them a year. Musical theatre producer John Frost of GFO (The Book of Mormon; Charlie and Chocolate Factory; Shrek the Musical) says “the days of us doing four or five shows a year – that is going to slow down", with perhaps more of an emphasis on plays.

#4 Festival season this summer

With Splendour in the Grass slated to take place in October this year, it's likely that other festivals will follow suit and push through in the warmer months. However, as promoter Michael Chugg of Chugg Entertainment states, "there's going to be a lot of differences, there's going to be a lot of barriers put in place." Social distancing measures will likely still be around and, such as with Falls Festival, the line-up will be completely homegrown, made up of Australian performers only. Lucky we're a talented bunch!

#5 A spotlight on local artists

It's unlikely that international touring artists will be allowed – or willing – to enter Australia in the not-too-distant future without strict quarantine processes, which means more opportunities for Australian artists. "It's only going to make Australian music stronger", Chugg says, while Geoff Jones, head of live event organiser TEG, confirms that his company will be investing in domestic acts in the short term. "We have got the talent and there will be the demand," he says.

Catherine Mah

Catherine likes to run, eat and read but not simultaneously. If you can't find her doing these things, she's most likely sleeping.