Andrew Lloyd Webber Team Quashing Reports That West End Phantom Has Been "Permanently" Closed
Producer Cameron Mackintosh had stated that the long-running show has been shut-down, by Lloyd Webber and his Really Useful Group are saying that's not accurate.
Update, Thursday, July 30
Andrew Lloyd Webber and his company, the Really Useful Group, are quashing published reports that the "brilliant original" West End production of The Phantom of the Opera has shut down completely.
Despite producer Cameron Mackintosh's Evening Standard essay, where he said that the production was "permanently" shut down, as well as public photos of the iconic chandelier being wheeled out of Her Majesty's Theatre, Lloyd Webber took to Twitter to say that it wasn't so. "As far as I'm concerned, Phantom will re-open as soon as is possible," he wrote on July 29.
Now, Jessica Koravos, president of Lloyd Webber's Really Useful Group, which coproduces the show, told The Stage that Mackintosh's wording was incorrect. They simply "closed down the physical production," she said. According to Koravos, they will be rebuilding the set — a technologically updated version of Maria Björnson's original — as well as doing repairs on the theater building. A timeline for those repairs has not been finalized, as they don't know how long it will take owing to the global pandemic.
Koravos assured fans that "it will be the original Phantom" that reopens, though it will be the first time that the show has been supervised without the involvement of both late director Harold Prince and late choreographer Gillian Lynne.
Read the original report below.
Stage producer and venue owner Cameron Mackintosh, responsible for the likes of Les Misérables, The Phantom of the Opera, Mary Poppins and more, has penned a piece in London's Evening Standard about his thoughts on the future of the West End and Broadway.
Within the article, he says that his and Andrew Lloyd Webber's touring and London productions of The Phantom of the Opera have "sadly permanently had to shut down," but that the pair are "determined to bring it [Phantom] back to London in the future." You can find out more about the shutting down of the show here, with the iconic chandelier recently wheeled out of the London auditorium.
Lloyd Webber has claimed he will try to preserve the "brilliant original" version of the long-running musical, though which version of Phantom will return to London is to be confirmed.
Mackintosh has also spoken openly about the "awful, distressing downsizing of [his] organization," which has led to a large volume of lay-offs and redundancies (Mackintosh says this is over 60 per cent of his organization and that he has "had to let go all the actors, musicians, stage staff and freelancers that work for me"). The producer has pledged that he will "start re-employing most of the staff I've had to let go" by next Easter. For this to happen, he goes on to say, "we'd need to reopen our box offices in November."
This is in line with many other producers' calls for further clarity on when exactly shows might be able to begin without social distancing – so far there has only a quick reference by the Prime Minister to such an event occurring by the end of the year.
Mackintosh spoke about fellow venue owner Lloyd Webber's recent trial performance at The London Palladium, calling socially distanced West End shows "a disaster" and that they are "all Alice in Wonderland in their ridiculousness," but commended Lloyd Webber for giving things a try.
The article doubles down on Mackintosh's firm belief that West End shows cannot run with social distancing in place ("I have been totally opposed to from the outset").
Admitting that "theatre has made me a wealthy man" (he was recently featured on The Sunday Times' Rich List) Mackintosh goes on to say that he has "already ploughed back most of that wealth into my business, refurbishing my theatres, keeping my shows in tip-top shape, as well as supporting the livelihood of thousands of talented colleagues around the world."
He describes himself as a "staunch Conservative," and calls for the Prime Minister to "light the lights" and give the industry more information about reopening, though cautions that in the case of both the West End and Broadway, this could be next summer if conditions are not favorable.
This article was first published on WhatsOnStage.