Phantom of the Opera 'permanently shut down' as Covid-19 wreaks havoc on theatres

28 July 2020, 20:34 | Updated: 28 July 2020, 20:37

Phantom of the Opera is permanently closing in the West End
Phantom of the Opera is permanently closing in the West End. Picture: PA

By Kate Buck

The West End production of Phantom of the Opera has been permanently closed as Covid-19 continues to wreak havoc on the entertainment industry.

The production has been running in at Her Majesty's Theatre in London since 1986, making it one of the capital's longest running shows in history.

But in a letter published in the Evening Standard today, the show's producer Cameron Mackintosh said that despite the government announcing a £1.57 billion rescue fund for the arts, help for theatres "still hadn't materialised".

He previously announced that none of his shows will be returning until 2021, as the pandemic rages on.

The entertainment legend currently owns eight theatres which are home to shows such as Les Miserables, Mary Poppins and Hamilton, but says he has had to downsize his business due to theatres being forced to shut.

The tour of Phantom has also been cancelled as a result of the pandemic.

He wrote: "When Covid hit, all my eight theatres were packed with hit shows including some of my own. So as by far the largest independent employer in the West End it is not surprising that as both theatre owner and producer, with no outside investors, I’ve taken a huge financial hit."

The production has been running in at Her Majesty's Theatre in London since 1986, making it one of the capital's longest running shows
The production has been running in at Her Majesty's Theatre in London since 1986, making it one of the capital's longest running shows. Picture: PA

Mackintosh has been a staunch critic of the government, and said both London and New York's Broadway "cannot function" without theatres being open.

He added: "With theatres closed indefinitely, I have had to let go all the actors, musicians, stage staff and freelancers that work for me.

"My loyal production and theatre management staff have been cut by 60 per cent reduced to a dedicated team who will look after these priceless historic buildings so they are ready to ramp up back into production the moment the Government accepts that social distancing, which I have been totally opposed to from the outset, is no longer a requirement."

Current coronavirus guidelines mean that indoor theatres are not allowed to open for audiences until August.

Even then, social distancing must be practiced inside, meaning the capacity of the country's theatres will be slashed to cater for the new rules.

Andrew Lloyd Webber - who wrote Phantom - staged a socially distanced performance by Beverley Knight in the London Palladium, which PHE oversaw.

He took to the stage during the course of the show, saying it was a "sad sight", and added it was unlikely social distancing in indoor venues would work.

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