Phantom of the Opera to tour Europe with Chinese production due to Brexit red tape

31 March 2022, 12:14 | Updated: 31 March 2022, 18:17

Brexit red tape has made it too “expensive” to tour the British version of Phantom of the Opera in Europe
Brexit red tape has made it too “expensive” to tour the British version of Phantom of the Opera in Europe. Picture: Getty

By Sophia Alexandra Hall

The British production of the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical is too complicated and expensive to bring to Europe due to the impact of Brexit.

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A Chinese production of the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, Phantom of the Opera, is being brought on tour to Europe, as Brexit red tape has made it too expensive to bring over a British one.

Phantom of the Opera opened in London’s West End in 1986 and became an international sensation, winning an Olivier Award the same year, and the 1988 Tony Award for Best Musical.

The musical has been translated into multiple languages and produced in over 28 countries on six continents, including China.

In a Commons Culture Committee session on ‘promoting Britain abroad’ earlier this week, Jessica Koravos, President of the Really Useful Group, which promotes the shows of Andrew Lloyd Webber around the world, revealed that bringing a Chinese production of the 1986 musical to Europe was “more straightforward and less expensive.”

Read more: Busker shocked as real-life West End Christine joins him for stunning ‘Phantom of the Opera’ duet

Koravos explained, “Under the current circumstances, I would not dream of sending a UK production into Europe.”

The revelation comes after the former Brexit minister admitted the deal he helped negotiate has negatively impacted touring musicians earlier this month.

Lord David Frost, the former Chief Negotiator of Task Force Europe, said the Brexit deal he helped negotiate presents “a whole set of problems” for touring musicians and their crew.

He admitted, “[the government] should take another look at mobility issues.”

In Tuesday’s Commons Culture Committee Koravos spotlighted the impact touring regulations have had on theatre.

Koravos explained that the main issue with bringing a British production over to Europe, was that while they could get permission for the Chinese production to perform in the Schengen Area (26 countries), the British one would involve a series of multiple applications to each country within the area.

Read more: Brexit trade deal failed touring musicians, admits former chief negotiator

All I Ask Of You | Phantom London Orchestra

In response to Koravos’ revelations, the chair of the culture committee, Julian Knight MP, commented: “That one of the all-time great British musical impresarios would not now dream of taking a production rich in West End heritage into the EU from Britain speaks volumes about the impact of the government’s approach to supporting touring creatives.

“If it wasn’t obvious before, the revelation that it is both cheaper and easier for a Chinese production of the Phantom of the Opera to be staged in the EU than it is for a British one, means that the mask has well and truly slipped on the true extent of the problems faced by the UK arts sector.

“The current EU visa arrangements are proving economically disastrous for our cultural industries by forcing them to play second fiddle to their international competitors, while having a hugely detrimental effect on the ability of the UK to exercise soft power by promoting Britain abroad post-Brexit.”