Theatres could be closed until NEXT year, Sir Cameron Mackintosh warns

Theatres could be closed until NEXT year: Producer Cameron Mackintosh warns it is unlikely any West End shows will be held until 2021 while social-distancing is in place

  • West End giant cautioned it would be impossible to social distance in theatres
  • All performances have been cancelled until May 31 at present due to coronavirus
  • There have been calls for the government to initiate a bailout of theatres 
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

Theatres may have to keep their doors bolted until next year, producer Sir Cameron Mackintosh has warned. 

The billionaire West End titan, who produced acclaimed musicals including Les Miserables and Hamilton, cautioned that it was impossible for theatres to plan for the future as long as social distancing measures are in place. 

Theatres have been forced to cancel performances until May 31, as the world remains in the grip of the coronavirus pandemic.

Some have gone online including the National Theatre, which has started streaming performances of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. 

Sir Cameron Mackintosh said that theatres may have to remain closed until next year. He is pictured above at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, after winning the Lebedev Award in 2018

Theatres in the West End have been bolted since the UK’s coronavirus lockdown began

Sir Mackintosh told Michael Ball on BBC Radio 2 it would be tough to get the venues open again because, ‘we want the audience to feel safe, and we want the actors to feel safe.’

‘For major productions both sides of the Atlantic, the truth is until social distancing doesn’t exist any more, we can’t even plan to reopen.

‘We will be back, but we need time to get back. If we don’t hear (about lifting lockdown) in a few weeks, I think the truth is we won’t be able to come back until early next year.

‘I think that’s quite clear.’

Composer Andrew Lloyd Webber warned at the start of April theatres were likely to remain closed until September at the earliest. ‘I’m hoping for maybe October on Broadway,’ he added.

National Theatre director Rufus Norris said it would be ‘completely irresponsible’ for venues not to consider the ‘worst-case scenario’.

‘We can’t deny the fact that getting 1,000 people in a room together for three hours inside isn’t what people are thinking about doing at the moment,’ he said. 

Andrew Lloyd Webber warned at the start of April theatres may have to remain closed until September at the earliest

Playwright James Graham, pictured at The Olivier Awards at London’s Royal Albert Hall, said an ‘aggressive bailout’ of the sector will be needed due to the lockdown

Birmingham Hippodrome is among those planning not to re-open until late spring 2021, reports The Stage.

Many theatres have taken advantage of the government’s furlough scheme – under which it will pay 80 per cent of employees wages – but this will run out in June.

Playwright James Graham warned on April 13 that an ‘aggressive bailout’ of the theatre sector is needed to help it survive the lockdown period.

He said that in a few months ‘all the reserves will have dried up and there will be no money left’.

‘I don’t even know if there will be a theatre and film industry that we can recognise when this is all over,’ he said. 

The UK economy has been in shutdown for six weeks owing to the coronavirus outbreak, with the government warning it is unlikely to be lifted in the near future.

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