Andrew Lloyd Webber forced to cancel Cinderella show due to ‘impossible’ Covid rules

20 July 2021, 10:04

Andrew Lloyd Webber cancels Cinderella opening night due to ‘impossible’ self-isolation conditions
Andrew Lloyd Webber cancels Cinderella opening night due to ‘impossible’ self-isolation conditions. Picture: Alamy

By Maddy Shaw Roberts

Musical theatre composer said he is ‘heartbroken’ over the Cinderella cancellations.

Andrew Lloyd Webber has been forced to cancel the opening nights of his new musical, Cinderella, just hours before it was due to play to its first full-capacity audience.

The West End production was suspended due to self-isolation measures, described by the composer as “the impossible conditions created by the blunt instrument that is the government’s isolation guidance”, after one cast member tested positive for COVID-19.

While all other cast members have tested negative, it is now unclear when the show will now open. Tickets for performances after this weekend are no longer available on the show’s website, which notes that they will go back on sale soon.

Speaking to Classic FM’s sister station, LBC, Lloyd Webber attacked the “completely untenable” current Covid rules. “We can’t carry on like this,” he added.

Cinderella was ready to go,” Lloyd Webber said in a statement. “My sadness for our cast and crew, our loyal audience and the industry I have been fighting for is impossible to put into words. Freedom Day has turned into closure day.”

Read more: Andrew Lloyd Webber launches legal action to force government to publish Covid pilot events results

The musical, written by The Crown star Emerald Fennell, began performances last month at the Gillian Lynne Theatre with an audience capacity of 50 percent, and had been set to open its doors to a full house on Monday (19 July), alongside the country’s wider reopening.

Culture secretary Oliver Dowden said he was “deeply disappointed” to hear about the cancellation.

“Whilst the need to self-isolate is an economy-wide issue, I recognise the particular challenges it presents to the arts and I’m strongly making the case for that in government,” he tweeted.

Lead actor Carrie Hope Fletcher said she was “completely and utterly gutted” by the news.

“At Cinderella, from the outset, we have employed a rigorous testing system for all the cast and backstage crew before they begin work,” Lloyd Webber explained on Twitter.

“On Saturday as part of this process, we identified one positive case in a member of our cast who has a cameo role in the show. As a precautionary measure, we cancelled two shows on Saturday while we carried out further tests on everyone backstage, which were negative. Any of those who were identified as a close contact of the positive case were given additional PCR tests. These tests too were negative.

He added on Monday: “This morning we carried our additional tests on those due to perform tonight. Every one of them was negative.”

“Despite this, the impossible conditions created by the blunt instrument that is the government’s isolation guidance, mean that we cannot continue. We have been forced into a devastating decision which will affect the lives and livelihoods of hundreds of people and disappoint the thousands who have booked to see the show.”

Actors’ union Equity has called for entertainment industry workers to not have to self-isolate, if they have taken a negative test, from 19 July, rather than the current planned date of 16 August.

They said in a statement: “Due regard must be given by the government to the industry’s pleas to enable the opening of productions where it is safe to do so, and it must bring forward the planned changes to self-isolation rules.”