Cameron Mackintosh: Phantom of the Opera has been 'permanently' shut down, but we are determined to bring it back
The venue owner has written about his prospects for the future
Stage producer and venue owner Cameron Mackintosh, responsible for the likes of Les Misérables, The Phantom of the Opera, Mary Poppins and Hamilton, has penned a piece in the Evening Standard about his thoughts on the future of the West End and Broadway.
Within the article, he says that his and Andrew Lloyd Webber's touring and London productions of The Phantom of the Opera have "sadly permanently had to shut down", but that the pair are "determined to bring it [Phantom] back to London in the future." You can find out more about the shutting down of the show here, with the iconic chandelier recently wheeled out of the London auditorium.
Lloyd Webber has claimed he will try to preserve the "brilliant original" version of the long-running musical, though which version of Phantom does return to London is to be confirmed.
Mackintosh has also spoken openly about the "awful, distressing downsizing of [his] organisation", which has led to a large volume of lay-offs and redundancies (Mackintosh says this is over 60 per cent of his organisation and that he has 'had to let go all the actors, musicians, stage staff and freelancers that work for me'). The producer has pledged that he will "start re-employing most of the staff I've had to let go" by next Easter. For this to happen, he goes on to say, "we'd need to reopen our box offices in November".
This is in line with many other producers' calls for further clarity on when exactly shows might be able to begin without social distancing – so far there has only a quick reference by the Prime Minister to such an event occurring by the end of the year.
Mackintosh spoke about fellow venue owner Lloyd Webber's recent trial performance at The London Palladium, calling socially distanced West End shows "a disaster" and that they are "all Alice in Wonderland in their ridiculousness", but commended Lloyd Webber for giving things a try.
The article doubles down on Mackintosh's firm belief that West End shows cannot run with social distancing in place ("I have been totally opposed to from the outset").
Admitting that "theatre has made me a wealthy man" (he was recently featured on The Sunday Times' Rich List) Mackintosh goes on to say that he has "already ploughed back most of that wealth into my business, refurbishing my theatres, keeping my shows in tip-top shape, as well as supporting the livelihood of thousands of talented colleagues around the world."
He describes himself as a "staunch Conservative", and calls for the Prime Minister to "light the lights" and give the industry more information about reopening, though cautions that in the case of both the West End and Broadway, this could be next summer if conditions are not favourable.