Hamilton star reveals West End actors are working in supermarkets during the pandemic

Annabel Nugent@annabelnugent
Wednesday 07 October 2020 09:20
Andrew Lloyd Webber announces online musical series

Hamiltons lead actor Sharon Rose has said that many West End stars have begun working in supermarkets amid the pandemic.

Best-selling shows including Hamilton, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child and Phantom of the Opera have been forced to close their doors on theatre-goers since March.

In an interview with Metro, Rose – who plays Eliza Shuyler in the hit production of Hamilton – said that West End cast and crew are looking to other lines of work for income amid theatre closures.

She said: “So many cast members – not just in Hamilton – but stage management, people that work backstage from all types of shows around the West End have to start doing normal jobs. I have so many friends who messaged saying, ‘I’m working in Sainsbury’s now.’”

The actor continued: “One of the managers at Sainsbury’s was talking to a friend of mine and was saying that they’re just finding that so many people who work in the West End have started to work for Sainsbury’s and places like that."

Performances were allowed again from 15 August – but with social distancing in place, productions won’t return at many venues for months

“So there has been a huge number of people looking for ‘normal’ jobs because the government has left everyone in the lurch,” she said.

Yesterday (6 October), Rishi Sunak caused uproar for his remarks about what people working in the arts should do as the industry struggles amid the coronavirus pandemic.

A number of prominent musicians, actors, TV presenters and authors have condemned Sunak for appearing to suggest unemployed arts workers should retrain and find other jobs.

Rose added: “There’s no other industry where people literally have to change professions completely within the space of a day."

“It was definitely the feeling of being ripped from your passion and what has belonged in your heart for a long time," she said. 

During yesterday’s interview, Sunak pointed to the government’s £1.5bn “cultural recovery programme” for the arts sector, which was announced three months ago, and added that self-employed arts workers have also been eligible for wage support this year.

However, many in the culture sector feel the industry has been largely left to fend for itself. Over the past six months, several popular independent music venues have been forced to close, while other arts venues have launched fundraises in a desperate bid to stay afloat amid the pandemic.

Rose urged the government to provide further assistance, stating: “To look at the amount of money the government has given us compared to what some people have paid in tax, it just doesn’t make sense. We don’t get support back."

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