Several actors were in shock after the abrupt termination of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s stage musical “Cinderella” at London’s West End and performing arts workers’ union Equity is seeking compensation.
Cast and crew members were informed on Sunday, May 1, the middle of a long bank holiday weekend in the U.K., after the matinee performance, that the show’s last performance would be on June 12. However, several cast members complained that they had not been informed, including some who were due to join imminently.
These included Olivier-nominated Summer Strallen, due to take over the role of The Queen, “Strictly Come Dancing” finalist John Whaite, due to play Prince Charming, Luke Latchman and Daisy Twells.
Reaction to finding out I’d been sacked via social media! WARNING- Explicit language, crying and it’s a bloody long video 😭Always thanks to my @danny_bayne and @DaisyTwells fellow future cast mate and @BibiJay3 FOH member https://t.co/6wGRvKPO1E
— Summer Strallen (@SummerStrallen1) May 1, 2022
Carrie Hope Fletcher, who plays Cinderella, tweeted: “I don’t think I have the words. And if I did I would probably be advised not to say them. Sending love to all impacted by todays news and by how that news was delivered.”
I don’t think I have the words. And if I did I would probably be advised not to say them. Sending love to all impacted by todays news and by how that news was delivered. 💔
— Carrie Hope Fletcher (@CarrieHFletcher) May 1, 2022
“I had no official call from the company to let me know before it was posted online,” Fletcher posted on Instagram.
A spokesperson for Lloyd Webber’s Really Useful Group told BBC News that the entire company working on Sunday were told in person. “At the same time as the company were told, everyone not present was called or emailed by the wider RUG team. Every effort was made to ensure that the message was distributed as widely as possible as quickly as possible but clearly we had to move quickly as news was getting out on social media.”
Equity is seeking compensation for the affected actors and crew members.
“Equity members made this show. They poured their hearts and skills into it through the worst two years in living memory. Now they’re jobless, effectively sacked by press release, Equity general secretary Paul W. Fleming said in a statement to BBC News. “All unions are fighting forms of this practice right now – and Equity will get compensation for our members after the pain and distress this has caused them.”
No reason was provided for the termination of the show, however, Lloyd Webber issued a statement. “I am incredibly proud of ‘Cinderella.’ Not only did it get some of the best reviews of my career, but we led the charge to reopen the West End, ensuring that theatre and live entertainment remained relevant and in the news,” Lloyd Webber said. While mounting a new show in the midst of COVID has been an unbelievable challenge, we held the government’s feet to the flames throughout their changes of heart during the pandemic.”
“Cinderella,” written by Oscar-winner Emerald Fennell (“Promising Young Woman”), began previews in June 2021 at the Gillian Lynne Theatre in London’s West End theater district after several COVID delays. The production was affected by theaters not being allowed to operate at full capacity for a while and was also disrupted by COVID outbreaks amongst personnel, leading to financial losses.
Meanwhile, Lloyd Webber has said that he is preparing a Broadway show with production company No Guarantee that will open in March 2023.