As socialising was stopped and working from home became the norm, curtains were closed on theatres as the battle against coronavirus begun last March.

And now, 17 months later, the curtains have been drawn back again at Churchill Theatre.

The theatre had customers waiting at the door to come in when it reopened, and it has already seen sell outs and shows for kids and families alike.

Theatre director Chris Glover said the heart of Bromley high street is back, and that the atmosphere so far has been fantastic.

He told the News Shopper: “There’s been so much excitement from customers and that has really helped the staff to be motivated.

“The atmosphere in the audience has been great and people just seem like they’re so glad to be back which gives off a really good vibe.

“It was a huge weekend across the country with football and other things restarting and we were so ready to reopen and be part of that.

“It has been quite a big job to reopen a venue after 17 months but the team have been great.”

Churchill Theatre is ensuring it caters for everyone post-lockdown – and has already put on a show for two to four year olds called Bow Peep.

Chris said: “We’ve already had such wide-ranging audiences and on Sunday night for with Stephen Triffit’s Frankly Sinatra it was so lovely to see generations and families coming together.

News Shopper:

“We had a near sell out on Sunday and then on Monday we launched Rob Beckett’s new tour which sold out then and again on Tuesday night.

“It was great as he’s a local boy and he’s back again in a few weeks with more sold out gigs.”

Chris said that the Churchill Theatre box office reopened on Monday and that there was a queue all day of people wanting to book for different shows.

He added: “None of us knew what was going to happen when we reopened but as soon as we did, there was a queue all day.

“I feel proud, it’s great and a really good feeling because it was such a surreal moment for staff when we were told to close and we all thought it’d be for a few weeks – not 17 months.”

Chris explained that without the furlough scheme, the theatre and its staff would probably not be back up like they are today.

He said: “Thankfully the government acted so quickly with the furlough scheme because that totally saved us as all our income stopped immediately.

News Shopper:

“Our staff have been able to come back gradually and they’ve just been so supportive throughout as we started remobilising and planning a few months ago.

“I couldn’t ask for more from them.”

Churchill Theatre has been slightly tweaked to adhere to safety preferences with coronavirus, including scanning tickets on doors and implementing a one-way system.

Chris said it’s working out “really well” and praised his customers for being so supportive.

He added: “We’re doing everything we can and our customers have responded really well.

“We’ve been talking to them quite a lot about their experience because we want to improve it.

“It shows that people just want to be able to come back and watch live theatre again – especially because we’re at the heart of the high street.”

There are a number of planned shows at Churchill Theatre over the coming months – including pantomimes, The Da Vinci Code and Cluedo premieres and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow show.

Chris said it’s like the “red carpet is put out for Bromley”.

He explained: “Every year, between 10 and 12 shows are premiering here on Bromley High Street.

“It’s really exciting and it’s like the red carpet is put out.

“We get the media here and celebrities here and I think it’s really important for Bromley.

“I think people choose to premiere here because the staff are so supportive and get behind the shows and we provide such good customer service to the producers.”

Chris added: “People should just keep coming to Churchill Theatre because it’s really great entertainment and they get a really warm welcome.”

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