Andrew Lloyd Webber says it's 'heartbreaking' to see theatre industry 'decimated' amid pandemic

·3-min read
Andrew Lloyd Webber has been vocal about the damage to the theatre industry, (Getty)
Andrew Lloyd Webber has been vocal about the damage to the theatre industry, (Getty)

Andrew Lloyd Webber has said the theatre industry is being “decimated” amid the coronavirus pandemic and that it is “heartbreaking” to see.

Many productions have been affected by the rise in Omicron infections, including the theatre impresario’s production of Cinderella.

On Thursday night, the West End show could not go ahead because of “COVID-related absences”.

Read more: Andrew Lloyd Webber says 'theatre is on its knees'

Another production hit was Hamilton, which will not go ahead on Friday night due to “COVID-enforced absences”.

Lord Lloyd Webber, who has been vocal throughout the pandemic about its impact on the theatre and entertainment industry, wrote in the Daily Mail: “It has been a terrible few days and it is getting worse.

The theatre impresario says the industry is being 'decimated'. (PA)
The theatre impresario says the industry is being 'decimated'. (PA)

“It is simply heartbreaking for me to see our industry decimated by a situation beyond all of our control.

“We had to cancel yesterday evening’s performance of Cinderella with three hours’ notice.

“Five more members of the company have tested positive, on top of three on Thursday. We’re a very large production and every cancelled show is devastating, but we simply can’t rehearse around the gaps in the cast and cover the performance.”

The composer and producer said the whole industry is experiencing the “same nightmare”.

“I am nearly 74 and desperate to get back to writing again,” said the star, who volunteered to be part of an early trial of the AstraZeneca COVID vaccine.

“Instead, for the last year-and-a-half, I have been campaigning for the commercial theatre industry.

“But in the end, I have come to the conclusion that no-one in the Government listens. Certainly not the new Culture Secretary, Nadine Dorries, who has made it abundantly clear that she doesn’t think commercial theatre needs any support.

“It’s a difficult message for all the industries, jobs and people who are now lurching from day to day to hear from someone who is supposed to be a Tory minister representing the arts.”

A Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport spokesperson said: “Our unprecedented £2 billion Culture Recovery Fund has given out £1.5 billion in grants and loans, and almost £200 million to the devolved administrations.

“The £300 million third round of the Culture Recovery Fund is still open for applications, providing vital ongoing support for the cultural, heritage and creative sectors.

Read more: Andrew Lloyd Webber joins legal action to force release of research on COVID restrictions

“We will keep the delivery of the programme under active review and consider how best to adapt it in line with the needs of the sector.”

Additional reporting by PA.

Watch: Andrew Lloyd Webber slams 'untenable' COVID rules after Cinderella cancellations