During the challenging times of the pandemic, we were forced to rely on online connections to stay in touch. It’s incredible to think that Netflix gained a staggering 26 million new subscribers in just the first half of 2020. And let’s not forget the mind-boggling 300 million daily meeting participants on Zoom in June 2020.
But as humans, we crave real connections. We longed for the joy of meeting face-to-face once again, and when It happened, it was simply wonderful. But something remarkable has occurred since then. People are now embracing social gatherings more than ever before. How do I know this? I see it with my own eyes. Trying to secure a table at a mid-priced restaurant has become a challenge. Art galleries and museums are buzzing with more visitors than ever and ticket sales for theatre performances and concerts are skyrocketing. In fact, just a few weeks ago, our September performance at the Royal Albert Hall sold out in a remarkable 15 minutes. Someone said that puts us on par with Pink Floyd! An unprecedented and unexpected demand led us to create a second performance. As a fellow parent, I wholeheartedly understand the desire to support your child—how could I not be there?
What’s even more heartening is the sight of larger family groups attending these events. It’s no longer just mum, dad, and a sibling; we now often see more grandparents wanting to be there as well. That’s fantastic because it’s a celebration. After all, when your son or daughter has been working tirelessly on something, the first thing you want to do is validate their efforts, share in their success, and congratulate them on their achievements.
But there’s something else going on here. People are going the extra mile to be present at live events. They seem to want that feeling of being part of something extraordinary. Perhaps we now place even more value on these experiences than ever before. Could that be why the numbers for live events are soaring? Just the other day, I went to see “Guys and Dolls” at the newish Bridge Theatre in London. In the past, audiences would enjoy the show and politely applaud at the end. But at this performance, the audience did more. They clapped after every number, often cheering and showing their enthusiasm. This felt like something new—an audience that became an integral part of the show, eager to demonstrate their presence. Standing ovations are becoming far more frequent than ever before. There’s an undeniable energy in the air.
Is this simply a post-pandemic rediscovery of the magic of live theatre? I can’t say for sure, but it feels exhilarating and different. Theatre is unique because, unlike cinema, it unfolds right here and right now. But it’s also about bringing people together in a room, connecting—a shared experience. This development is transforming live events into bigger occasions.
Will this newfound feeling endure? Only time will tell. What I do know is that we must now focus on giving our September audience an unforgettable experience—one that will make them cheer and rise to their feet in applause. We can’t take it for granted; we have to work for that right.