Andrew Lloyd Webber to have safe live performances tested at the London Palladium in July
Updated on 24 June 2020
After prolonged government inaction, Andrew Lloyd Webber has announced plans to take matters into his own hands after seeing a "worrisome" version of a soon-to-be-released government report. The musical theatre impresario and theatre owner told BBC Radio 4 today that he will be testing out various safety measures for live performances in a series of trial runs at the London Palladium in July.
Andrew Lloyd Webber to test out the South Korean model for post-lockdown theatre performances
After The Phantom of the Opera has been able to play for over two months now in South Korea following the initial coronavirus outbreak, Andrew Lloyd Webber has announced plans to follow suit and do several test runs of the South Korean model.
"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," said the creator of Phantom of the Opera and Cats.
"For example, they have thermal imaging cameras at the 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."
"Because it's impossible to do social distancing in the theatre," Andrew Lloyd Webber has also emphasised that there will be no social distancing whatsoever and hopes to replicate South Korean theatres in the UK very soon.
"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."
Andrew Lloyd Webber: "I want to prove that [theatres] can reopen"
Andrew Lloyd Webber 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 the 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."
Andrew Lloyd Webber's Cinderella musical still planned for October
It is still expected that Andrew Lloyd Webber's upcoming updated version of Cinderella starring Carrie Hope Fletcher will continue as planned. The musical is scheduled to open for previews on 9 October 2020 at the Gillian Lynne Theatre with Victoria Hamilton-Barritt set to play the Evil Stepmother.