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Andrew Lloyd Webber: Pantomimes need to know by 1 August if they can go ahead

Lloyd Webber has called for more clarity around reopening

The Palladium pantomime in 2018
© Dan Wooller for WhatsOnStage

Andrew Lloyd Webber has called for the government to provide clarity about whether or not pantomimes will be able to go ahead this year.

Speaking at the special one-off pilot performance at The London Palladium, Lloyd Webber said: "I know from Michael Harrison, one of the great pantomime producers in Britain, that if he doesn't know by 1 August that pantomimes can open without social distancing he cannot proceed and that means the lifeblood that theatres depend on will evaporate and this cannot be allowed. We must get the regional theatres open."

Harrison has worked extensively with Qdos Entertainment, the world's biggest pantomime producer, which provides thousands of actors with work on an annual basis. In 2018 he won an Olivier Award for his Palladium pantomime, Dick Whittington.

Lloyd Webber is a firm believer that, with the right conditions and safety measures, venues can reopen without social distancing and risk no transmission of the virus, similar to the policies in South Korea.

Speaking to the BBC earlier this week he also said how unhelpful it is that passengers can sit on planes for as long as they please without social distancing, yet theatres are not close to the same situation.

He added yesterday: "What we need badly is a date for reopening. Everyone understands that a spike in the virus could mean a delay, but we need a target."

The London Palladium hosts one of the largest pantomimes in the UK, with thousands coming to the venue to see stars delivering festive cheer. Many theatres have already cancelled their panto season, instead aiming for "pop-up" shows or alternative festive productions.

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