Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber says that theatre is on its knees due to current self-isolation rules.
Lloyd Webber was forced to postpone the opening of his new Cinderella musical on Monday after a member of the cast tested positive for Covid.
Although all other cast and crew tested negative, current self-isolation restrictions mean that they all must isolate for ten days. The rules are currently due to stay in place until at least 16 August.
It’s the latest closure to hit theatres despite venues being given the green light to resume performances with full audiences.
Other shows which have had to cancel or postpone performances include the West End productions of Hairspray and The Prince Of Egypt, Romeo & Juliet at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre as well as the Six The Musical tour.
Lloyd Webber said: “We can’t isolate every time somebody may or may not have it. It just simply doesn’t work.
“I say this from the heart, I am seeing the profession I have loved, I’m seeing musical theatre I think I had a small part in pioneering in this country at a time when frankly the British were not considered to be people who could do musicals.
“And I am just saying it with passion – please, please will this Government for once listen to us.
“Listen. We do know what we’re doing, we do. Just listen and knock all these platitudes and endless, endless blunt instruments that don’t apply across the board.”
He added: “We can’t go on like this, theatre is now on its knees, there’s no way forward.
“I beg the government to realise – we have the testing system, we have everything in place to keep people safe. Let us get on with our jobs. We cannot carry on with this current system. It simply doesn’t work.”
In response to the closure of Cinderella, Culture secretary Oliver Dowden said: “I’m deeply disappointed to hear the news about Cinderella. I know how much effort ALW has put into this production, and how much it meant to the cast, crew and theatre lovers alike.
“Whilst the need to self isolate is an economy wide issue, I recognise the particular challenges it presents to the arts and I’m strongly making the case for that in government.
“In the meantime, I hope to see as much open as possible and, where shows are restarting, please give your support by buying a ticket.”
Last week saw union Equity also call for a relaxation in current self-isolation restrictions.
Equity General Secretary Paul W Fleming said: “Equity wants to keep our members safe and continue to support the fight against Covid-19, but current restrictions are disproportionate and not tailored to the needs of the industry. From sport to hospitality, the government is taking a sector-specific approach and we’re just asking them to do the same for live performance and broadcast.
“As planned in England from August, a careful testing regime could and should replace the current blanket isolation approach in place across the UK. If it doesn’t, the vanguard of the UK’s social and economic recovery from Covid could face irreparable damage.”