Theater News

Andrew Lloyd Webber Announces Plans to Test Live Performances at the London Palladium in July

The trials will follow the example set in South Korea, where ”The Phantom of the Opera” has continued to play for over two months.

Andrew Lloyd Webber
Andrew Lloyd Webber
(© Tricia Baron)

Speaking on BBC Radio 4 today, musical impresario and venue owner Andrew Lloyd Webber announced plans to test measures in trial runs at the London Palladium in July.

Accord to Lloyd Webber, the trials will follow the example set in South Korea, where The Phantom of the Opera has continued to play for over two months: "It's really the local producers who have done the extraordinary work there…the key thing they have is incredibly good hygiene in every possible way. Both backstage and in the front of the orchestra. The whole point is to make people feel as safe and secure as they can.

"For example they have thermal imaging cameras at stage door and as you come into the theatre. These can identify if people have temperatures extremely quickly. Airlines are also developing this and we've also ordered it. We've ordered silver ion self-cleaning door handles for our little tests, these are completely effective against pathogens like coronavirus for a long period of time. Everybody going into the theatre is fobbed with the anti-viral chemical, which lasts 30 days."

But Lloyd Webber stressed that there'll be no social distancing "because it's impossible to do social distancing in the theatre".

He now hopes to replicate the South Korean model in the UK, imminently.

"What I hope to do is to demonstrate what has happened in South Korea at the London Palladium –hopefully in the first week of July. We've just had the final piece of equipment delivered and it's just clearing customs. Then we're going to do a series of tests to see if it's going to work.

"The reason that we've chosen the Palladium is that it's a very big theatre, just under 2300 seats. It's the biggest theatre we have and in one way the most problematic. We want to be able to demonstrate there that this can work."

"All we can do is continue to be positive and demonstrate we can open. If we do that and we fail then at least we've tried."

The creator of shows like Cats and Phantom of the Opera wasn't the most enthusiastic about the government response to the pandemic: "I've had a couple of conversations with Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden about it, and I'd love to be able to say that they understood a little more.

"I have seen a report on theatre and I don't know what's going to be in the report that's supposed to be coming out on Monday, but I sincerely hope it doesn't contain some of things that I have seen in their advice. One of the things was a brilliant one for musicals: you aren't allowed to sing.

"One lives in hope but all you can do is to try and demonstrate and stay positive…I want to prove that they can reopen. "