Wembley concert for NHS is postponed as West End shows including Lion King and Matilda cancel shows over Covid cases
West End shows are being forced to suspend performances in the run up to Christmas because of Covid outbreaks – while next week's free music concert for NHS workers at Wembley has also just been postponed.
Hamilton, Disney's Lion King and Matilda are among around 10 big-name musicals and plays to have cancelled shows in the last few days as a result of positive cases among cast and crew while one of the capital's biggest pantomimes Aladdin says it can't return to the stage before December 23 because of Covid-19 among its company.
Despite stringent infection control measures to protect both casts and audiences, the rising number of coronavirus cases across the country is now impacting on theatres in the run up to Christmas with many forced to cancel ticket holders just hours before shows have been due to start.
Among the plays to have been forced to abandon a large chunk of its pre-Christmas run is The Royal Shakespeare Company's The Comedy of Errors at the Barbican. It has cancelled performances up to and including Wednesday, December 22, much to the disappointment of those who had tickets for a pre-festive outing.
A statement on its Facebook page explained: "The combination of cases means that we are unable to go ahead with our rehearsed understudies or alternative versions of the show. Our priority is keeping everybody safe, and cancelling performances is a last resort."
The Lion King says it won't be returning to the stage until Tuesday (December 21) because of 'ongoing Covid-enforced absences' among cast and crew. Guests due to catch the show before Christmas who have now seen their date cancelled will be contacted to either rearrange their outing, organise a credit voucher or refund.
While theatre goers with tickets to hit musical The Prince of Egypt at the Dominion Theatre are also awaiting news of future performances after shows for today and yesterday were cancelled because of coronavirus alongside those hoping to see Six, which has been forced to pull today and tomorrow's performances from Henry VIII's wives at the Vaudeville Theatre.
Hundreds of NHS key workers who had been given free tickets to a music concert at the SSE Arena Wembley next week with headline performances from musicians including Kaiser Chiefs and The Fratellis have also been told this morning that the event has been postponed until next year.
The National Lottery's Big Christmas Thank You concert was due to take place on December 22 with hundreds of free tickets via a ballot system given to NHS staff to recognise their efforts in fighting the pandemic over the last two years.
But organisers of the event have now announced it is to postpone until April 2022.
A statement said: "We have made the difficult decision to postpone The National Lottery’s Big Christmas Thank You concert until next spring. Your comfort, safety and wellbeing is paramount to us. So, in partnership with The National Lottery, and the brilliant roster of artists who were giving their time, we have taken the decision to delay the show until next year when we can be sure everyone can enjoy what promises to be a wonderful and unique experience."
"In the meantime, stay safe, and thank you for your continued hard work to help our country through this crisis."
Those who had tickets will automatically have their booking transferred to the new date one it is arranged but more details are available here for those who were due to attend.