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9 June 2021, 10:24 | Updated: 9 June 2021, 10:28
Composer pledges to fully reopen theatres on 21 June – even if it means getting arrested.
Lloyd Webber, one of the world’s most prolific and celebrated musical theatre composers, said his theatres were suffering “acute financial stress” that could only be lifted by theatres reopening without social distancing.
He said that if the government postpones lifting restrictions, “We will say: come to the theatre and arrest us.”
Cinderella, Lloyd Webber’s first West End show in five years, is slated to have its first preview in just over weeks, with opening night set for 14 July after almost a year’s delay.
Lloyd Webber would struggle to break even if he does not sell every seat during Cinderella’s run, due to the high production cost.
However, reports suggest the government may push back the lifting of restrictions on 21 June due to concerns over the impact of the Delta COVID-19 variant, which originated in India.
Lloyd Webber insists he has “seen the science from the tests”, and theatres are not a breeding ground for the virus. “They all prove that theatres are completely safe, the virus is not carried there.”
The theatre impresario added: “If the government ignore their own science, we have the mother of all legal cases against them.
“If Cinderella couldn’t open, we’d go, ‘Look, either we go to law about it, or you’ll have to compensate us.’”
Lloyd Webber revealed that it costs him £1 million a month just to keep his six theatres dark. He has remortgaged his London home, a townhouse in Belgravia, and warned that he may have to sell his six West End theatres if restrictions are not lifted as planned.
“I don’t think [the government] understand it,” he told the Telegraph. “We’ve never taken any profit out of the theatres. I’ve always tried to put back in, which is why we’re in a muddle now because we never had a big reserve.
“Unfortunately,” he says, “the Government regards theatre as a nice thing to have rather than a necessity.”
Last week, Lloyd Webber told the Daily Mail he would “have to consider” taking legal action against the government if a reopening was delayed.
On his lifelong love for the arts, Lloyd Webber added: “I don’t know when or where or how I began to love musicals, but I can’t remember a time when I didn’t.
“I think of music all the time. I must have 30 to 40 melodies in my head that haven’t found a home yet.”