Andrew Lloyd Webber: Nobody in theatre will relax until vaccinations happen

Laura Harding, PA Deputy Entertainment Editor

Andrew Lloyd Webber has said it is “vital” that theatres continue with measures to improve ventilation even after audiences are vaccinated.

The theatre impresario, who took part in the trials for the Oxford jab, is hoping to re-open venues from May.

Speaking on the Table Manners podcast, he said: “I’m just spending my time at the moment just trying to get the theatres open. There are all sorts of things that could be done.

Coronavirus – Wed Jul 29, 2020
Her Majesty’s Theatre is among the theatres that are closed (Jonathan Brady/PA)

“But we are where we are now, and my feeling is that the vaccination is really the important thing and that nobody is really going to relax until the vaccinations happen.

“But when the theatres do open again, one thing is going to be vital, that we don’t let up on the measures we were going to take anyway if we were allowed to stay open. Ventilation. Vital.

“It amused me that in 1918, the London Palladium was considered to be the safest place in London away from the Spanish flu because of the ventilation.”

Royal visit to The Palladium
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and their children, Prince Louis, Princess Charlotte and Prince George attend a special pantomime performance at London’s Palladium (Aaron Chown/PA)

The composer said he was infuriated when he saw photographs of busy shopping streets in the run-up to Christmas and told hosts Jessie and Lennie Ware: “I’ve always said that I thought middle of May we could be beginning to see things opening up. That was based on information I had in October/November.

“I think everybody thought there would be a big massive spike now which I think could have been avoided if everyone had just knocked on the head the Christmas shopping.

“It was ludicrous when we were told we couldn’t go on with the theatre in December because everything was going into tier 3, I mean, the sights outside the theatre, which was only 50% full cause that’s all it was allowed to be, but everybody jostling in all the shops in Oxford Street, Regent Street.

“That did, I think, make everybody in theatre people’s blood boil.

“But they were right to lock theatre down, but they should have locked everything else down at that time, ’cause it was going out of control and they knew it.

“But I think we are where we are, and I stick by that date but I might be out by six weeks. Some shows, my new Cinderella could open at 75%, so we’ll just have to see.

“The main thing is to get theatres open fully.”

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