London’s West End has extended its shutdown until at least June 28, with the potential for further cancellations to be decided on a rolling basis.
The Society of London Theatre (SOLT) announced today (Tuesday) that theatre closures have been extended from its original target of May 31.
The not-for-profit organisation representing the London theatre industry said the announcement does not mean theatres will reopen on June 29, adding that different theatres and productions will likely reopen at different times.
SOLT reminded fans in its statement: “Ticketholders for affected performances do not need to do anything. They will be contacted by the organisation from which they bought their tickets to arrange a refund, credit note or exchange for a later date.
“We are grateful to customers for the patience they are showing during this challenging time for our industry. With 300,000 people visiting West End theatres in a normal week, it’s a major undertaking to process refunds, exchanges and credit notes, particularly when many staff are working remotely.”
The extension comes weeks after a deal was struck between SOLT and UK actors union Equity to offer job security during theatre closures. The two entities have agreed to offer extended contracts to those appearing in long-running shows, limited-run productions and those still in rehearsals.
Under the new agreement, when theatres reopen, casts will be able to continue working with the same productions.
The UK government is expected to ease lockdown measures and announce a tentative schedule for industry reopenings in the coming weeks, though it could take some time for theatre to get back to its former glory due to the nature of its events.
Earlier this week, theatre impresario Cameron Mackintosh said he believes West End and Broadway theatres will be closed until next year after rejecting the notion of their reopening under social distancing rules.
Mackintosh, whose Delfont Mackintosh group owns eight London theatres, said in a BBC Radio 2 interview that major musicals “are going to be the last to go back” after COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.
Billionaire Mackintosh, who has produced a string of hits in London and New York City over the last five decades, said West End and Broadway would come back eventually, “but it takes months and months to get huge shows like the kind we do up and running.”
Image: Andrew Dupont