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Phantom of the Opera, Andrew Lloyd Webber's iconic musical, could be 'permanently shut down' in London's West End

But the Sydmonton composer counters claims by the show's producer

Sarah Bosley

sarah.bosley@newburynews.co.uk

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01635 886655

Andrew Lloyd Webber

Andrew Lloyd Webber

Andrew Lloyd Webber’s iconic musical, The Phantom of the Opera, has been “permanently shut down” after nearly 34 years, according to its producer.

The “heart-breaking” news was announced by producer Cameron Mackintosh in an article for the Evening Standard this week.

But in a tweet the following day Sydmonton’s Lord Lloyd-Webber said: “As far as I’m concerned Phantom will reopen as soon as is possible.”

The Evening Standard article had reported that the UK tour and the London show were to shut although it claimed Mr Mackintosh, a frequent visitor to Bagnor's Watermill Theatre, and Lord Lloyd-Webber were “determined” to bring it back to the capital in the future.

The “impossible constraints of social distancing”, however, made it difficult for them to say when that may be.

The iconic chandelier has already been seen being taken out of Her Majesty’s Theatre, but it was reported last month that the set and the theatre itself were to undergo renovations anyway.

A statement posted on the show’s website said Mr Mackintosh, who owns eight London theatres, had taken the “difficult decision” to delay the return of his productions, which also include Les Misérables, Mary Poppins and Hamilton, due to the ongoing shut down of the capital's Theatreland.

Mr Mackintosh is the largest independent employer in the West End and added that he had taken a “huge financial hit” as a result of the coronavirus closures of theatres.

He said: “This decision is heart-breaking for me, as I am sure it is for my employees, as everyone who has worked with me over the last 50 years, on or off the stage, knows how much I care about what I do and how I do it.

“Despite the government engaging with the desperate pleas from everyone in the theatre industry, so far there has been no tangible practical support beyond offers to go into debt which I don't want to do.

“Their inability to say when the impossible constraints of social distancing will be lifted makes it equally impossible for us to properly plan for whatever the new future is. This has forced me to take drastic steps to ensure that I have the resources for my business to survive and enable my shows and theatres to reopen next year when we are permitted to.”

The statement added that all customers who have booked will be contacted directly and that return dates for the shows would be announced as soon as practicable next year.

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