One day before Andrew Lloyd Webber’s highly anticipated musical “Cinderella” opened in London’s West End and two days after an actor tested positive for the coronavirus, the prolific composer and producer announced on Monday that the premiere would take place again delayed.
“I was forced to make the heartbreaking decision not to open my Cinderella,” he said in a Twitter statement. “The impossible conditions created by the government’s blunt instrument of isolation policy mean we cannot go on.”
Lloyd Webber’s announcement initially did not specify whether production would be closed for good or just postponed, although a spokeswoman for him later clarified that the show’s opening was being delayed, not canceled, and that they hoped the show would be “soon, but it is very “difficult to open in the current conditions.”
The composer’s statement was likely an attempt to force the UK government to change its quarantine rules for actors and crew. Last month he made the front pages of the newspapers with comments promising to open “Cinderella” at full capacity, “come hell or high tide” – even if he was arrested for doing so. He quickly withdrew from the plan after learning that his audience, cast and crew were risking fines for violating UK coronavirus rules.
With its story and his book by Oscar-winning screenwriter Emerald Fennell (“Promising Young Woman”), the $ 8.2 million musical with Carrie Hope Fletcher in the title role was planned and previewed at half capacity at Gillian Lynne took place theater for about a month.
Lloyd Webber, 73, has been pressuring the government for more than a year to allow the theaters to open at full capacity. In an interview with the New York Times earlier this month, he said that protocols requiring a show to be canceled because a cast member came into contact with someone who tested positive was the death knell for a musical like “Cinderella.” “Could be.
“The problem is we couldn’t go on,” he said. “We can’t bleed money to death every week because we’re 50 percent of the time. It’s almost unthinkable, but at some point you just have to hand in the towel. “
A surge in coronavirus cases in the UK, fueled by the Delta variant, has also closed other London West End theaters after members of productions like “Hairspray” at the London Coliseum and “Romeo and Juliet” at Shakespeare’s Globe earlier this month tested positive. And London’s Riverside Studios announced that The Browning Version, due to open next month with Kenneth Branagh in the lead role, has been canceled.
Despite a surge in cases that pushed England’s daily average to 39,950 – roughly double the level two weeks ago – virtually all social distancing and masking requirements were lifted on Monday, leading to widespread Freedom Day celebrations.
But for those involved in Cinderella, the news was grim.
“Cinderella was ready to go,” Lloyd Webber said in the statement. “My grief for our cast and crew, our loyal audience and the industry I fought for cannot be put into words.”