Theatre impresario Andrew Lloyd Webber has praised the lifting of COVID restrictions announced by the prime minister, revealing plans to celebrate so-called “Freedom Day”.
His latest show, Cinderella, opened to 50% audiences in the Gillian Lynne Theatre last month, despite his vow to fill his audiences and risk arrest.
In a statement following England’s COVID roadmap announcement, Lloyd Webber revealed that he was “thrilled” he could open his venues at full capacity.
He also added he is running a “Freedom Day” performance of Cinderella on 19 July, as well as a charity gala showing the day after, with proceeds going to St John Ambulance and the NHS.
The government had previously offered to work with Lloyd Webber and include his show in the Events Research Programme (ERP) after the easing of restrictions was delayed last month, but the Conservative peer declined, saying he did not want special treatment.
His other shows, such as Phantom Of The Opera and Joseph And The Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat, will open their doors later this month, with more musicals and plays opening up and down the country as restrictions are eased.
But Lloyd Webber’s West End show Hairspray has had to close for a week, after a positive COVID test at the theatre.
The show, which stars Michael Ball, shared a statement on Twitter, saying that “despite extremely robust measures being in place”, a member of the production team caught the virus.
The statement added: “We want to reassure all of our audiences that due to the strict processes we have in place at the London Coliseum this registered case will not have come into contact with anyone visiting the venue & we are confident that we have adhered to all health & safety requirements.
“The safety of our customers remains our number one priority. Everyone at both the London Coliseum and in the Hairspray team are so sorry that this means these performances cannot go ahead.”
All shows are now cancelled until 14 July, according to organisers.
Theatres were among the first venues to be closed down last March, and are now among the last to reopen.
Data from the government’s trial programme so far shows that no “substantial” outbreaks have occurred at events such as The Brit Awards and the FA Cup final.