Theatre impresario Lord Lloyd Webber has issued a blistering attack on the UK Government as performances of his new Cinderella musical were cancelled on the day West End theatres were meant to reopen for the first time in almost 18 months.
On what was meant to be a press night for his eagerly anticipated new show, Lloyd Webber took to the stage at the Gillian Lynne theatre, off Drury Lane, to brief reporters on the suspension of Cinderella due to a single cast member testing positive for Covid-19.
Lloyd Webber, who had threatened legal action against the Government if the end of lockdown was delayed in June, was said to be close to tears as he warned that Cinderella faces an uncertain future, given the huge knock-on effects in terms of costs.
According to a Daily Telegraph report, the LW Theatres chief argued that rigorous and regular testing of cast members could ensure safety and urged the Government to add live events workers to the proposed list of those exempted from isolation rules.
Lloyd Webber said: “It would be helpful if he [Boris Johnson] had a look at theatre and could consider whether we could be exempt too. If we could demonstrate that we can open safely, it should be possible.
“Every single member of the cast has been double-tested, none of them are positive apart from [that] one person. I felt that with the guidelines as they are at the moment, we simply couldn’t go ahead. The theatre can’t carry on like this.
“I have tried and tried. I have held pilot events, we have demonstrated how theatres can be safe. This building has 100% fresh air, the best ventilation system you can find. I’d like to make one last plea to them: we can’t go on like this. Theatre is now on its knees, there’s no way forward.”