Theatre

Andrew Lloyd Webber ‘ready to be arrested’ over COVID theatre rules

Patrick Kelleher June 9, 2021
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Andrew Lloyd Webber streaming musicals coronavirus

Andrew Lloyd Webber. (Mike Coppola/Getty)

Andrew Lloyd Webber will stage his new musical Cinderella regardless of what COVID-19 restrictions are in place – and he is prepared to be arrested for doing so.

The theatre legend’s new musical – penned by Promising Young Woman director Emerald Fennell – is due to start previews on 25 June, just four days after the last coronavirus restrictions are supposed to be scrapped in England.

However, the government is reportedly considering pushing back the grand reopening by a number of weeks due to concerns about the Delta variant of COVID-19, which was first identified in India.

Speaking to The Telegraph, Webber said he will reopen his theatres and stage Cinderella as planned – regardless of whether the government has eased coronavirus restrictions.

“We are going to open, come hell or high water,” the musical theatre mogul said.

When asked what he will do if the government demands they postpone the shows, Webber replied: “We will say: come to the theatre and arrest us.”

He went on to claim that he has seen scientific evidence that shows theatres are “completely safe”.

“If the government ignore their own science, we have the mother of all legal cases against them. If Cinderella couldn’t open, we’d go, ‘Look, either we go to law about it or you’ll have to compensate us.'”

Andrew Lloyd Webber’s theatres are in ‘acute financial stress’

Andrew Lloyd Webber said it has cost him £1 million per month to keep his six West End theatres shut, forcing him to remortgage his London home and borrow a reported £50 million.

He admitted that he is in “acute financial stress” and said the government doesn’t understand the challenges facing the theatre industry.

“We’ve never taken any profit out of the theatres. I’ve always tried to put back in, which is why we’re in a muddle now because we never had a big reserve,” he said.

Webber said the government views theatre as “a nice thing to have rather than a necessity”, but also admitted that he had “jumped the gun” when he decided to start previews of Cinderella so soon after the planned reopening date.

He went on to suggest that there is “a real risk” he will have to sell his West End theatres soon if he is not allowed to reopen.

“I will fight to the last ditch to prevent that happening but no one can deny that there are foreign buyers sniffing who would quite love to have these [theatres] as trophy assets,” he added.

Related topics: Andrew Lloyd Webber, COVID-19

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