Andrew Lloyd Webber ‘prepared to be arrested’ over theatre reopening

Andrew Lloyd Webber has said he is determined to open his theatres on 21 June, even if he risks being arrested.

The impresario’s West End production of Cinderella is scheduled to begin previews on 25 June, four days after so-called “freedom day”.

“We are going to open, come hell or high water,” 

The government has said it will make a judgement soon on whether to proceed with the lifting of lockdown restrictions on 21 June.

According to reports, that date may be pushed back by the government due to concerns over the impact of Covid-19 variant.

Theatres are currently able to operate with with reduced capacities and socially distanced audiences.

Lord Lloyd-Webber has previously insisted that productions like his large-scale musicals are “impossible” under those restrictions.

Gillian Lynne Theatre London
image captionA defiant announcement for Cinderella at the Gillian Lynne Theatre in London

The 73-year-old told the Telegraph he is prepared to be arrested if authorities try to intervene in his reopening plans.

“We will say: ‘Come to the theatre and arrest us,'” the Evita and Phantom of the Opera composer is quoted as saying.

The theatre mogul said he may have to sell his six West End venues if the government does not relax its restrictions.

The pandemic has had a catastrophic financial impact on the theatre industry and many have remained closed despite the ease in Covid-19 measures.

“If the government ignore their own science, we have the mother of all legal cases against them,” Lord Lloyd-Webber continued.

“If Cinderella couldn’t open we’d go, ‘Look, either we go to law about it or you’ll have to compensate us.”‘

Speaking to Radio 4’s Today programme on Wednesday, he called on the government to stop “penalising” the live music and theatre sector.

“We can open safely,” the impresario insisted. “Please, please let us get open.”

He claimed that recent pilot events had shown there was “no chance of infection being passed… provided certain protocols are maintained”.

The government has yet to publish the results of its test event programme, which included having a live audience at last month’s Brit Awards.

Carrie Hope Fletcher
image captionCarrie Hope Fletcher will play the title role in Emerald Fennell’s reworking

Cinderella was due to open last August but is now scheduled to have its opening night at the Gillian Lynne Theatre on 14 July.

Lord Lloyd-Webber also has plans to re-launch his productions of The Phantom of the Opera and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.

Communities secretary Robert Jenrick said on Wednesday he “completely sympathised” with the impresario and those in the theatre sector.

“We want to get them open, we are doing pilots,” he told Sky News. “We want to get those theatres open so great new productions like Cinderella can open.

“But you have just got a few more days to wait until the judgment that the Prime Minister is going to make on the basis of the data.”

When asked if Lord Lloyd-Webber should be arrested if he does open theatres without restrictions relaxing, Mr Jenrick said: “We all have to abide by the rules.”

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