Producer Cameron Mackintosh has said his West End productions of Les Misérables, Mary Poppins, Hamilton and The Phantom of the Opera will not be returning before 2021.
In a statement Mackintosh said: "This decision is heart-breaking for me, as I am sure it is for my employees, as everyone who has worked with me over the last 50 years, on or off the stage, knows how much I care about what I do and how I do it.
"Despite the government engaging with the desperate pleas from everyone in the theatre industry, so far there has been no tangible practical support beyond offers to go into debt which I don't want to do. Their inability to say when the impossible constraints of social distancing will be lifted makes it equally impossible for us to properly plan for whatever the new future is.
"This has forced me to take drastic steps to ensure that I have the resources for my business to survive and enable my shows and theatres to reopen next year when we are permitted to. I have no investors or venture capital backing, everything is funded by me personally and already my companies' considerable reserves have been massively reduced by the complete closure of our industry everywhere.
"Everything I have made has come from the theatre and everything I have has gone back into these magnificent historic buildings that I have lovingly restored and the spectacular productions I have painstakingly insisted remain in tip top shape wherever they play in the world – resulting in my being one of the biggest employers in the theatre.
"The commercial theatre provides billions of pounds of revenue to the Economy. It is time this is recognised and the government takes action to ensure this priceless resource at which the British people excel is helped to survive. Without our theatres being ablaze with life, London cannot properly reopen as one of the world's greatest cities."
Mackintosh has said that "return dates for the productions will be planned for as early as practical next year".
All customers who have booked to date will be contacted directly by the box office, or their original point of purchase, and offered a credit voucher which can be used for priority booking when new booking dates are announced, or a refund.