Theatre News

Lloyd Webber tells government 'come to the theatre and arrest us'

The composer has ramped up the rhetoric about 21 June

Andrew Lloyd Webber
Andrew Lloyd Webber
© Dan Wooller for WhatsOnStage

Andrew Lloyd Webber has said he will reopen his theatres to full capacity on 21 June "come hell or high water".

In an explosive interview with the Telegraph, the composer and impresario said he will invite the government to "come to the theatre and arrest us" if this means he is breaking guidelines.

There has been extensive speculation that the government will postpone the current date for the full lifting of social restrictions in light of the spread of the delta variant.

Lloyd Webber is due to open his new show Cinderella at the Gillian Lynne Theatre on 25 June, just four days after restrictions are due to lift. He claims that evidence is lacking when it comes to the coronavirus being spread in theatres.

"I've seen the science from the tests, don't ask me how," he said. "They all prove that theatres are completely safe, the virus is not carried there."

He continued that if the government go ahead with a postponement of the lifting of restrictions, "we have the mother of all legal cases against them. If Cinderella couldn't open, we'd go, ‘Look, either we go to law about it or you'll have to compensate us'."

Lloyd Webber also spoke of the threat to his portfolio of six West End theatres, including the Gillian Lynne. He has reportedly borrowed £50million and remortgaged his London home in Belgravia to keep the venues afloat during the pandemic.

He also claimed the government has not taken the threat to theatres seriously enough, saying they "regard theatre as a nice thing to have rather than a necessity".

It is not the first time Lloyd Webber has spoken out. Last week he raised the possibility of legal action if restrictions are not lifted on 21 June.