Andrew Lloyd Webber may ‘sue’ the government if theatre reopening is delayed

3 June 2021, 10:39

Andrew Lloyd Webber threatens to sue if theatres can't reopen
Andrew Lloyd Webber threatens to sue if theatres can't reopen. Picture: Getty

By Maddy Shaw Roberts

Phantom of the Opera composer considers taking legal action, if theatres are not reopened to full capacity on 21 June.

Andrew Lloyd Webber said he would “have to consider” taking legal action against the government if theatres are not reopened to full capacity as planned.

The Evita composer said it would be “the final death blow” for the industry, if the relaxation of coronavirus restrictions does not go ahead as planned on 21 June.

He told the Daily Mail that if theatres are continuously forced to only open at a reduced capacity, the issue becomes “what is the legality of the whole thing?”

“If the government’s own science has told them that buildings are safe... I’m advised that at that point things could get quite difficult,” he added.

Since 17 May, venues have been allowed to reopen at reduced capacity. But many theatres have remained shut because, as Lloyd Webber said last year, it is not “economically possible” for some shows to run with social distancing.

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Lord Lloyd-Webber said legal action may be the only option, if relaxations do not go ahead.

“This is the very last thing that anybody wants to do, but there would become a legal case at that point because it’s their science – not ours. I would passionately hope that we don’t have to, but I think we would have to consider it.”

Next month Lloyd Webber is hoping to open Cinderella, originally slated for August 2020, with Carrie Hope Fletcher at the West End’s Gillian Lynne Theatre.

The composer said he would be happy, as audiences are currently required to do in concert halls, to ask attendants to wear face coverings during the show.

He said: “We would conform with anything the Government asks us to do to get 100 per cent open – but we have to be 100 per cent.”

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He referred to the triumph of the government’s pilot events, such as the Brits, which culture secretary Oliver Dowden labelled a “real success”.

Only 15 cases came from the 58,000 who attended events including the World Snooker Championships and Liverpool’s outdoor music festival. Dowden added he was “hopeful” that 21 June will see the full-scale reopening of theatres and West End venues.

Lord Lloyd-Webber praised Dowden for “fighting really hard for us”.

The composer then added: “If scientists really are so worried about everything, then they should be saying there should be a total circuit breaker surely and lock everything down again for two weeks.”

The latest coronavirus reports reveal three-quarters of adults in the UK have now received a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. 107 deaths were registered in England and Wales in the week ending 21 May – the lowest number since the week ending 11 September 2020.