- Title: Lloyd Webber says UK theatres have been made a 'sacrificial lamb'
- Date: 25th June 2021
- Summary: LONDON, ENGLAND, UNITED KINGDOM (FILE - MARCH 2, 2020) (REUTERS) RED CARPET FOR PRESS NIGHT FOR "PRETTY WOMAN: THE MUSICAL" AT THE PICCADILLY THEATRE (NOT OWNED BY NIMAX) CURTAIN CALL ACTORS TAKING BOW AUDIENCE APPLAUDING CAST ON STAGE LONDON, ENGLAND, UNITED KINGDOM (FILE - MARCH 13, 2020) (REUTERS) STREET SIGN FOR LONDON'S SHAFTESBURY AVENUE AND THEATRELAND PEOPLE AND TRAFFIC ON STREET OUTSIDE THEATRES BILLBOARDS FOR "THRILLER" AND "EVERYBODY'S TALKING ABOUT JAMIE" LONDON, ENGLAND, UNITED KINGDOM (FILE - MARCH 24, 2020) (REUTERS) CLOSED THEATRE DOORS / POSTERS FOR "THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA" CLOSURE NOTE ON DOOR READING (English): "We've brought the curtain down for a while"
- Embargoed: 9th July 2021 12:17
- Keywords: Andrew Lloyd Webber COVID-19 LBC radio interview UK government legal action theatre
- Location: LONDON AND LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND, UNITED KINGDOM/ NEW YORK, NEW YORK, UNITED STATES
- City: LONDON AND LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND, UNITED KINGDOM/ NEW YORK, NEW YORK, UNITED STATES
- Country: United Kingdom
- Topics: Arts/Culture/Entertainment,Europe,Theatre
- Reuters ID: LVA00BEIWHLQL
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Andrew Lloyd Webber said on Friday (June 25) Britain's theatre industry has been made "a sacrificial lamb" as it still faces restrictions during the easing of lockdown measures.
Lloyd Webber and other impresarios said on Thursday (June 24) they had started legal action to press Britain's government to publish research into the safety of holding indoor events during the pandemic.
British authorities have conducted a pilot scheme in recent months, testing audiences at live events from soccer matches to the Brit Awards, to see if they can be held with full crowds.
A joint statement from concert managers and theatre producers said reports suggested these had gone well, but the government had "refused to publish the results from the first phase of the Events Research Programme, despite saying that it would do so on numerous occasions".
They also said the industry had repeatedly urged the government to spell out its reasons for keeping restrictions on audiences in place.
"Public Health England officials don't have a clue about theatre and how they're operated and I somehow feel that we've almost been made a sort of sacrificial lamb," Lloyd Webber told Britain's LBC radio on Friday (June 25).
"It's something to say 'oh well no no it really is very dangerous to be indoors' even though theatres are properly ventilated, there's no recycled air in any of our buildings and yet you could have a pub that can open up its garden under the second phase, put a badly ventilated marquee up there, well, of course, you're going to see infections rise, aren't you?"
The 73-year-old, known for major West End and Broadway musicals such as "The Phantom of the Opera", "Evita" and "Cats", added: "If all of this was as serious as ... it's supposed to be then really everything should have been locked down again and we all ought to be treated fairly."
The pandemic initially forced all British theatres and concert halls to close their doors. Some briefly re-opened in December and, under Prime Minister Boris Johnson's roadmap out of lockdown, smaller productions resumed in May though at 50% capacity and with social distancing measures.
Bigger musicals had been waiting for the wider lifting of restrictions.
"Why does this government not really rate culture? I don't understand it," Lloyd Webber told LBC.
Last week, the composer said he would not take part in the pilot scheme but would comply with social distancing rules when his new musical "Cinderella" begins previews on Friday (June 25).
Asked what he would tell Johnson if he met him, Lloyd Webber said: "I would say, listen ... the country really, really needs its theatre, not just because of the financial reasons ... But the fact is, is that without live theatre, without live music, with live entertainment, our lives are immensely poorer."
(Production: Lisa Giles-Keddie, Marie-Louise Gumuchian)
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