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Andrew Lloyd Webber’s new musical was set to have its premiere on Tuesday in London, but the production has been thrown into chaos as one actor, among the cast of more than 30, contracted the coronavirus.
Tonight’s premiere, which was supposed to coincide with the rest of England lifting pandemic-related restrictions on what Downing Street calls Freedom Day, was canceled and no new opening date has been set. In a statement, the “Phantom of the Opera” composer and West End theater owner said that due to UK quarantine rules, his musical could shut down entirely.
“On Saturday, as part of this [testing] process, we identified a positive case in a member of our cast who has a cameo on the show,” said Lloyd Webber. “As a precautionary measure, we canceled two shows on Saturday while we further tested everyone backstage, which came back negative.”
The production then administered follow-up PCR tests, all of which came back negative.
“Despite this,” said Lloyd Webber, “the impossible conditions created by the blunt instrument that is the government’s isolation guide means that we cannot continue. We have been forced to make a devastating decision, which will affect the lives and livelihoods of hundreds of people. ”
Here are the Broadway shows that will reopen and how to get tickets.
Lloyd Webber ended up sounding like the Ghost of him about to knock down the chandelier at the Paris Opera: “Freedom Day has become closing day.”
But is he scrapping the sets and turning off the ghost light at the Gillian Lynne Theater? Sources close to the production insist that this is not a Lloyd Webber stunt, and that the status of the show really is up in the air. And a spokesperson for “Cinderella” told The Post that there will definitely be no performances of the musical before next week, and what will happen after that date is uncertain.
“It is difficult to see a route forward under the current rules, but we will do our best to come back,” he said.
Other puzzled sources say that the musical’s advancement is strong and that Lloyd Webber would be foolish if he threw “Cinderella” in the trash.
“Cinderella” in London has faced struggles for more than a year due to the coronavirus pandemic
“Cinderella”, which Lloyd Webber wrote with lyricist David Zippel and Oscar winner Emerald Fennell, is the latest victim of what the British press has called “the pingdemic”: strict and binding isolation rules in which anyone who come into close contact with an infected person, as tracked by an app pinging their phone, must stay home for 10 days regardless of their vaccination status or negative test result. It is estimated that some 10 million Britons could soon be tied to the sofa.
The crippling restrictions, which will be reassessed on August 16, have wreaked havoc on London’s already struggling theater business.
In the past two weeks, big-budget musicals like “The Prince of Egypt” and “Hairspray” have been forced to cancel weeks of performances, even though most of the capacity and use of masks rules ended Monday. “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” now back on stage at the Palladium, had to delay its start for 12 days earlier this month.
“These rules are the death sentence for the West End,” said a source. “The government doesn’t care about us. They don’t see us, until they show up on our red carpets and ask to pose for photos with our stars. Just take a look at [culture secretary] Oliver Dowden in “Hairspray.” I couldn’t wait to get a first preview photo with Michael Ball in his dress. Then, no less than a week later, “Hairspray” is forced to shut down for a minimum of three weeks.
“Do not care”.
The only show currently running on the Great White Way, “Springsteen on Broadway,” operates at 100 percent capacity, forces audience members to get vaccinated, and has had no performance breaks so far. But that production has only two artists: Bruce Springsteen and his wife, Patti Scialfa.
Still, sources say Broadway should avoid the money-draining turmoil from the West End. When the great Broadway musicals – like “Wicked”, “Hamilton”, “The Lion King” and “Moulin Rouge” – return in September, casts and crews will be required to be vaccinated, and anyone who tests positive for COVID it will probably be sent home without canceling performances.
“I applaud London for taking so many steps forward to try to get artists back to work, but that’s why Broadway is waiting,” a Broadway source said of the New York theater’s subsequent comeback. “We cannot afford a 10-day shutdown. We cannot afford a two week shutdown.
“We will be more prepared for the fall on how to deal with this.”