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Andrew Lloyd Webber reveals opinion of Cats movie and explains hopes for the future of his venues

The composer has been pushing for the reopening of venues without social distancing

Andrew Lloyd Webber
© Dan Wooller for WhatsOnStage

Venue owner and composer Andrew Lloyd Webber has been working consistently through the pandemic to push for the reopening of venues – trialling West End performances, bringing over special equipment and liaising with the Culture Secretary about the precarious circumstances of the sector.

But in a new Sunday Times interview, he said that many city centres have become a "wasteland" while venues remain closed. He also said that there hasn't been any real consistency: "I wouldn't want to even begin thinking about how many culture secretaries we've had."

The composer expressed frustrations about the debut of his new musical Cinderella (described by the Times as "brutally good"), saying that a lack of clarity from the government continues to raise question marks – "we still don't know if we're going to be able to open then". He says he also remains in the dark about the nature of the government's £1.57bn support package, citing worries for freelancers and arts workers: "If they give all the money to the buildings and institutions, what happens to the people who are making the content?"

Lloyd Webber also mentioned that producer Len Blavatnik is supposedly working on a new adaptation of The Great Gatsby with composer Florence Welch, and that there may one day be "a season of Shakespeare plays in the round, with the RSC" staged at the newly revamped Theatre Royal Drury Lane (which is poised to provide the UK premiere of hit Disney musical Frozen next spring). WhatsOnStage has approached the RSC for clarification on these plans.

The composer did not mince words with regards to his opinion of the recent 2019 big-screen adaptation of musical Cats. Describing the show, Lloyd Webber said: "The whole thing was ridiculous", citing the fact that director Tom Hooper "didn't want anybody involved in it who was involved in the original show", in a similar vein to Les Mis.

Cats was not critically well-received, with a current 20 per cent rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Lloyd Webber worked with star Taylor Swift to compose a new number for the show, sung by Francesca Hayward in the film.

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