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Andrew Lloyd Webber: I want to prove theatre can open again

The composer plans to trial measures at The London Palladium.

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Andrew Lloyd Webber (Ian West/PA)

Andrew Lloyd Webber (Ian West/PA)

Andrew Lloyd Webber (Ian West/PA)

Andrew Lloyd Webber has called on the theatre industry to be “positive” about its future amid the pandemic.

The 72-year-old plans to trial measures at The London Palladium after Phantom Of The Opera continued in South Korea with strict hygiene measures and no social distancing.

It has been “absolutely awful to see everything that I’ve loved in my life gone”, the theatre impresario said. “I want to prove that they can be open.”

The composer told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “What I hope to do is to be able to demonstrate to the Government what has happened in Korea, at The London Palladium, hopefully in the first week of July…

“We’re going to do a whole series of tests there to see whether or not it’s going to work,” said Lord Lloyd-Webber, who has ordered hygienic door handles and thermal imaging cameras.

“I really believe that we in theatre must be positive and use everything we can to demonstrate we can open. If having done that we fail, at least we’ve tried.”

He said he had spoken to Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden.

“I would love to say that I think that they (the Government) understood a little more…

“I sincerely hope that (a forthcoming report on the theatre) doesn’t contain some of the things I’ve seen in some of their advice, one of which was a brilliant one for musicals – that you’re not allowed to sing.”

His comments came after Les Miserables, Mary Poppins, Hamilton and The Phantom Of The Opera were pulled from the West End for the rest of the year.

Theatre owner and producer Sir Cameron Mackintosh blamed the decision to axe the popular musicals until 2021 on “continued uncertainty” over when the Government will completely withdraw social distancing measures.

Kwame Kwei-Armah, the artistic director of the Young Vic, also called for help after stars warned that the UK theatre industry stands “on the brink of ruin”.

He said that around “70% of theatres up and down the country … will run out of cash by December”.

PA