Andrew Lloyd Webber has backed down over his threat to reopen his theatres without social distancing in place after he was warned his entire staff and audience members could have been fined hundreds of pounds each.
Webber said he would have been willing to face arrest by going ahead at full capacity when Cinderella premieres at London’s Gillian Lynne Theatre on June 25.
But he added that after seeking legal advice he had decided he could not risk the cast, crew and audience members being fined individually. It will now go ahead at 50 per cent capacity.
In a swipe at the government, the composer also rejected Boris Johnson’s offer for his musical Cinderella to be included in a pilot scheme for live events, which would have allowed it to be shown at full capacity earlier. Following talks between the pair, Webber said it would be unfair for his show to be singled out for special treatment by Downing Street.
The impresario said he ‘cannot and will not take part’ and blasted the Government over its treatment of theatre and music as ‘an afterthought and undervalued’. Lord Lloyd-Webber, 72, said in a statement: ‘After a long week of government delay and confusion, I confirm that I cannot and will not take part in yet another pilot scheme around the reopening of theatres, as suggested by the Prime Minister on Monday.
‘I have made it crystal clear that I would only be able to participate if others were involved and the rest of the industry – theatre and music – were treated equally. This has not been confirmed to me.’