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West End star Lee Mead described his return to the London Palladium as a "dream come true" and said not performing in lockdown had been mentally tough.
Mead, who has performed in shows including Wicked and Joseph And The Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat said he faced some tough months and nothing beat the buzz of being back on stage.
"It feels amazing I can't believe I'm at the London Palladium, it's been a year-and-a-half since I've been on stage," he Mead said.
"The longest time in twenty years is probably two or three months that I haven't sung for an audience. To come back here with my show is a dream come true.
"It's been really, really tough as anyone will tell you the last year-and-a-half mentally, my job, I love what I do.
"I think also for audiences just being in the theatre and missing that connection with a live audience. It's wonderful we've done streaming shows and managed to adapt but you can't beat that live buzz of being in a theatre," he added.
Mead is performing at the Palladium on Thursday evening as part of his 40th birthday celebrations, singing popular songs from the West End and Broadway.
He is also preparing for a major 35-date tour starting in September after managing to re-schedule the entire event when the Covid crisis first hit.
"I pulled my tour really early on and we managed to rebook for the end of this year but there have been hundreds of shows and acts across the country in theatres that couldn't get the a slots and are now looking in 2022 - I feel very lucky that the full tour has been rebooked for this September and October," Mead said.
The pandemic has had a catastrophic financial impact on the theatre industry and many remained closed despite the easing of Covid-19 restrictions as it wasn't financially viable to open with reduced capacities.
Mead said that thanks to the rollout of the vaccine "we're at a far better place than we were this time last year".
"Going towards the end of this year, start of next year it's looking very positive and hopefully things will be back on their feet within the next few months," Mead said.