“The Phantom of the Opera” is the latest victim of the coronavirus pandemic. After a 34-year run at Her Majesty’s Theater in London’s West End theater district, Richard Stilgoe and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical won’t be raising its curtains again, according to producer Cameron Mackintosh.
In a column in the U.K.’s Evening Standard newspaper on Monday, Mackintosh wrote: “Andrew and I have had to sadly permanently shut down our London and U.K. touring productions of The Phantom of the Opera, but are determined to bring it back to London in the future.”
However, Lloyd Webber appears to be more optimistic about reopening, tweeting on Tuesday: “As far as I’m concerned Phantom will reopen as soon as is possible” – ALW.
"As far as I’m concerned Phantom will reopen as soon as is possible" – ALW
— Andrew Lloyd Webber (@OfficialALW) July 29, 2020
Mackintosh wrote that despite the U.K. government’s $1.9 billion arts lifeline, “this help still hasn’t materialized.”
On Tuesday, the U.K. government outlined steps of how $1.14 billion of the lifeline package would be disbursed, including $647.3 million for Arts Council England to support theaters, music and comedy venues and museums. Under this scheme, cultural recovery grants will be available in two rounds in August and September. By March 31, 2021, Arts Council England predicts that successful applicants will be either fully or partially reopened, or operating on a sustainable, cost-efficient basis so they are able to reopen at a later date.
For many theater owners, however, the government assistance — which was only announced in early July — will simply not come soon enough.
When the pandemic hit, Mackintosh was forced to shut down all eight of his West End properties, each of which was running to full houses. He hopes to restart by Easter 2021, however, he notes that, “If the Government is unable to support this, we’re likely to have to push back our reopening to next summer, causing further devastating losses to both the theater industry and London’s economy, to which I have already contributed more than £1 billion ($1.3 billion) in tax.”
Mackintosh also produced “Les Misérables,” “Mary Poppins,” “Oliver!,” “Miss Saigon,” “Cats” and “Hamilton.”