But on July 25 the buzz was particularly loud during the opening night of Jason Robert Brown’s musical The Last Five Years. To combat London’s oppressive summer heat, producer David Babani gave out handheld battery-operated fans to critics and theatregoers.
Most members of the audience had the tact to turn them on only during scene changes. Others, however, kept their coolers switched on during the 80-minute production while performers Damian Humble and Lara Pulver soldiered on in the near-100-degree heat.
Air conditioning is not as widespread in London as it is in New York. The hot summer has, it’s thought, partly accounted for an estimated 25% dip in West End audience figures.
A spokesman for the Chocolate Factory, whose production of Sunday in the Park With George transferred to the West End’s Wyndham’s Theatre and will likely travel to Broadway in 2007, confirmed that options are being considered to keep audiences cool.
"The problem is the theatre can’t afford in-built air conditioning,” said the venue’s spokesman, “and the portable versions are even noisier than fans.” For more on The Last Five Years, which is booking until Sept. 30, call (0)871 230 2616.