Lloyd Webber thanks ‘patient’ theatregoers ahead of Cinderella’s first night

Andrew Lloyd Webber has thanked theatregoers for being “so patient” ahead of the opening of his new show Cinderella in the West End.

The production, which is being staged at the Gillian Lynne Theatre, opens tonight with an audience capacity of 50% after the impresario rejected the Prime Minister’s offer for the show to be included in the live events pilot scheme.

Written by The Crown star Emerald Fennell and starring Carrie Hope Fletcher, the musical is described as a “complete reinvention” of the classic fairytale and is based on an original idea by Fennell.

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In a video filmed outside the Covent Garden venue, Lord Lloyd Webber said the show was opening with “half an audience thanks to our Government”.

He said: “I cannot believe it but we are actually at the afternoon of our first preview of Cinderella. I cannot thank you for being so patient, any of you coming tonight.

“What a time we have had but we are going to have a great show, I hope, tonight.

“We have got a lot to learn and need an audience – but we have only got half an audience thanks to our Government.

93rd Academy Awards
The Crown’s Emerald Fennell (Matt Crossick/PA)

“But we need an audience to tell us whether we have done right or not. But welcome to the Gillian Lynne Theatre and Cinderella.”

It comes after Lord Lloyd Webber said on Friday morning that the Government had made the theatre industry a “sacrificial lamb”.

Appearing on LBC, he said: “The trouble is that the Public Health England officials don’t have a clue about theatre and how they’re operated. I somehow feel that we have somehow been made a sort of sacrificial lamb.

“It is something to do (with), ‘It is really dangerous to be indoors’, even though theatres are properly ventilated – there is no recycled air in any of our buildings.

“And yet you can have a pub that can open up its garden under the second phase, put a badly ventilated marquee up there – well, of course you’re going to see infections rise.

Cinderella – Gillian Lynne Theatre
The cast and crew of Cinderella (Andrew Lloyd Webber/PA)

“If all of this was as serious as it was supposed to be then really everything should have been locked down again and we should have been treated fairly.”

He added: “The Government hasn’t treated us in the way it should. We just want to see what’s in this report.”

A Government spokesperson said: “We understand a delay to full reopening is challenging for live events but we are helping our creative industries and sporting bodies through it. We have made a record £2 billion of support available for culture and £600 million for sports, on top of billions more through other government schemes.

“Our ongoing, groundbreaking Events Research Programme is gathering important evidence to help get all live events, including theatre shows, festivals and gigs, fully back up and running once it is safe to do so. We will publish the results of the programme before the move to Step 4, as we have always promised to. This aligns with the publication commitments for the other road map reviews.”