John Kani feels coronavirus setback as sold-out show in London is stopped

Theatre legend John Kani /ALON SKUY
Theatre legend John Kani /ALON SKUY

Celebrated stage and film actor John Kani had to accept the shut down of a two-week sold-out show in London's West End due to the coronavirus outbreak in England.

Kani, who was doing his new show Kunene and the King with Antony Sher, had a season at Ambassador Theatre in London that began on January 19 and was supposed to end on March 28.

The performances had to be stopped last week Monday due to the restriction of public gatherings caused by coronavirus outbreak.

Kani told Sowetan that they were disappointed that they had to close the show with two weeks before its final curtains.

"We knew it was coming because people began cancelling their bookings. Broadway [New York] was the first to close down all its shows in February," Kani said.

"After England prime minister denounced unnecessary public gatherings, Society of London Theatres (SALT) made a decision to close all shows across the UK.

"It was last week Monday that the Ambassador Theatre made a decision to postpone the show until further notice."

Kani said the show had received incredible support.

"We have been well-received. The nice thing about Broadway and West End, a season get sold out way before the show opens. "

Asked if he was coronavirus- free, Kani said: "When it was announced the first time, a nurse came to check us; she cleared us. She told us no hugging and selfies. Two weeks ago, they came back to check us again."

Kani, who made his West End debut in 1974 with the late Winston Ntshona, doing Sizwe Banzi is Dead, said it was fulfilling to visit London's theatre hub again 46 years later.

Written by Kani, Kunene and the King reflects on the 25 years since the first post-apartheid democratic elections.

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