Andrew Lloyd Webber closes new Cinderella musical, blaming UK government

The modern twist on Cinderella was due to open in London on July 20, 2021.
The modern twist on Cinderella was due to open in London on July 20, 2021.PHOTO: NYTIMES

LONDON (REUTERS) - Musical theatre impresario Andrew Lloyd Webber on Monday (July 19) closed his new London production of Cinderella the day before it was due to open after a cast member tested positive for the coronavirus.

Lloyd Webber did not announce a new opening date, blaming "impossible conditions" imposed by the British government.

"I have been forced to take the heart-breaking decision not to open my Cinderella," Lloyd Webber said in a statement.

"The impossible conditions created by the blunt instrument that is the government's isolation guidance, mean that we cannot continue," he added.

It was not immediately clear whether the entire production had been cancelled or whether it might open at a later date.

The modern twist on Cinderella was due to open in London on Tuesday, a high-profile new stage show following the closure of theatres for almost 18 months because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Lloyd Webber, the creator of hit shows including Cats and Phantom of the Opera, is one of the most influential and successful figures in the theatre world and had been a key voice in urging support for theatre during the pandemic.

With music by Lloyd Webber and a story by Oscar-winning screenwriter Emerald Fennell, Cinderella had already suffered several delays due to changing restrictions ordered by the British government around quarantine, social distancing, and capacity in indoor entertainment venues.

The government on Monday ended over a year of Covid-19 lockdown restrictions in England but the so-called 'Freedom Day' was marred by surging infections, warnings of supermarket shortages and Prime Minister Boris Johnson's own forced self-isolation.

"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," Lloyd Webber said in his statement.