Andrew Lloyd Webber will open his new musical Cinderella in the West End this month with social distancing.
Lloyd Webber ruled out taking part in a planned pilot scheme, accusing the government of treating the theatre as “an afterthought and undervalued”.
In a lengthy statement posted to social media and on his official website, the musical impresario said: “After a long week of Government delay and confusion, I confirm that I cannot and will not take part in yet another pilot scheme around the reopening of theatres, as suggested by the Prime Minister on Monday.
“I have made it crystal clear that I would only be able to participate if others were involved and the rest of the industry – theatre and music – were treated equally. This has not been confirmed to me.
“It has become clear that, while sporting events like Wimbledon had obviously been working with the Government for some time on this pilot, and were even able to start selling tickets yesterday, the theatre industry and its audiences is, once again, an afterthought and undervalued.”
Discussing plans for Cinderella, Lloyd Webber continued: “Cinderella will perform its first preview next Friday 25 June. Like theatres and venues across the country, this will sadly be at the Government’s arbitrary 50 per cent capacity, not the 100 per cent we so passionately wanted.
“Having taken legal opinion from senior counsel, if we had gone ahead at 100% it would be very likely that every member of my cast, crew and orchestra, the front and backstage staff, plus our loyal audience members, could be individually fined hundreds of pounds, which I couldn’t possibly risk. If it were just me, I would happily risk arrest and fines to make a stand and lead the live music and theatre industry back to the full capacities we so desperately need.
“I could not look my young cast and crew in the eyes to tell them we were delaying or closing down. So, I have made the decision to personally bear the losses until we fully open on – or hopefully before – 19 July.”
He went on to apologise to ticket holders who may have to be reseated or rebooked, adding: “I appreciate all of your ongoing patience and understanding. Rest assured, come hell or high water, we will get you to the ball.”
Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cinderella will begin preview performances at London’s Gillian Lynne Theatre on 25 June.
Teased as a new, modern spin on the all time classic fairytale, Carrie Hope Fletcher was previously confirmed to play the title role of Cinderella.
The piece features music from Webber with lyrics by David Zippel and an original story and book by Emerald Fennel.