2021 was a bittersweet year. Starting in lockdown, we moved slowly towards some semblance of normality as the months rolled by - COVID still very much an unwelcome presence - but with the vaccine roll-out we saw the world tentatively start to turn again. Events re-appeared in the diary, theatres reopened - at first socially distanced, and then during the summer at full capacity, the Olympics went ahead, people filled sporting stadiums and arenas and performers got back on stage in front of tens of thousands. From the dark, early days of the pandemic which saw us all experience frightening uncertainty, 2021 brought promise. Certainly, here at Unusual, life seemed to return to normal - with projects rolling in and our teams increasingly busy - if not busier than ever before. It's been a hugely trying time and every single member of the Unusual team has stepped up and gone above and beyond to deliver projects to our clients, reaching the same high quality and professionalism that is expected of us, not allowing the difficult restrictions, social distancing and constant COVID testing to affect the outcome of their work.

We completed our work on Theatre Royal Drury Lane - a labour of love - and a legacy to AJ, during the summer before loading in the long awaited and delayed production of Frozen which is wowing audiences in their thousands. We've brought the Moulin Rouge to the Piccadilly Theatre, got Cinderella to the ball at the Gillian Lynne Theatre, brought Les Miserables back to the Sondheim Theatre and Phantom back to Her Majesty's Theatre - to name just a few. We've been delighted to support the various productions that are back touring the UK including Book of Mormon and 9-5 and of course, who could forget the pantomimes. Last year, with a heavy heart our vast schedule of pantomimes disappeared one by one as the country went into its second lockdown. This year we've had no less than 12 pantos on the go across the UK - from Glasgow to The Palladium.

Our dedicated teams have spent months away from home working on the Tokyo Olympics, which after much uncertainty went ahead, albeit without venues full of sporting fans. Yet, because of the year's delay, many of our team have gone straight from Tokyo to Beijing where they're now working tirelessly to bring the winter Olympics next month. Unusual's work with museums kept us busy too - from the amazing Heather Phillipson showcase at Tate Britain, to Amazonia - a stunning collection of beautiful photography currently at the Science Museum and soon to transfer. And we've also been decommissioning exhibitions - last month we were responsible for decanting a massive 6000kg artwork called The Materials House, built in-situ on the first floor of the Science Museum; a complex operation involving disconnecting from foundations and roof, crating, lifting, tracking, lowering, changing orientation in the air and finally settling gently on the ground floor.

We've been incredibly fortunate to have had some 'spectaculars' to work on too - once again the Christmas lights shone bright over Regent Street thanks to our rigging teams, Lumiere in Durham got the Unusual treatment in November and we braved the wind and rain of North Wales to deliver the "Walking the Plank" stunt featured in the opening episode of this year's I'm A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here. Another wow moment was the installation and assembly of a 14000kg, 15 metre tall, ten-piece, asymmetrical, priceless artwork sculpture in an upmarket private dwelling. We accepted the challenge, improvised, adapted, overcame lots of problems and completed.

We've continued our efforts on sustainability, with 2021 seeing us increase our fleet of EV, plus early preparations are underway to build Unusual’s zero carbon New HQ. We've also successfully run our NRC assessments - in a safe and socially distanced manner at our site in Bugbrooke - 2022 dates are on the website so contact us now to register your interest.

At the time of writing, the months ahead seem uncertain with cases of Covid having spiralled once more. Several shows have cancelled performances due to cases of COVID amongst the cast and crew – Andrew Lloyd Webber has closed Cinderella until February. But we face the unknown with optimism - seeing people queueing around the block to receive their booster jabs so that life can continue as normal, audiences still eager for theatre happy to wear masks throughout the performance - preferable to sitting at home in front of the TV, and a diary full of exciting and challenging productions, events and projects for us to tackle, we hope that 2022 is the year that finally puts the pandemic to bed and allows everyone working in the live production industry - and those who enjoy the fruits of our labour, to carry on regardless.

Wishing all our clients, colleagues, family and friends a happy, healthy, prosperous and uninterrupted new year.


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