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With 100 days to go, West End warms up for Olympics

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With 100 days to the start of the London Olympics, 100 cast members from West End shows including Ghost the Musical, Phantom of the Opera, Chicago and Shrek the Musical assembled in Trafalgar Square today in front of the Olympic countdown clock for to mark the West End theatre welcoming the world to London.

The "West End Warm Up" was organised by the Society of London theatre. Guest luminaries included Robin Cousins, the British skater who won a gold medal at the 1980 Winter Olympics and who, as recently reported, will play Billy Flynn in Chicago later this year, and Stephen Daldry, the director of Billy Elliot and chief executive of the London 2012 opening ceremonies.

Nica Burns, Ruth Mackenzie, Robin Couzins, Samantha Bond, Mark Rubenstein, Julian Bird, Kaine Ward & Stephen Daldry. Photo credit: Andrew Orange
The event was called "to celebrate the West End's excitement about the forthcoming Olympic and Paralympic Games and the accompanying influx of visitors into the capital during July to September.

Not everyone in the theatre has been so upbeat about the games. Last year Andrew Lloyd Webber predicted that the Olympics would cause "a bloodbath of a summer" for London theatres. "Nobody's going to go to the theatre at all," he told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme. There were even rumours that his Really Useful Group was considering closing West End shows including Phantom of the Opera, during July and August.

Others take the view expressed to the Evening Standard in January 2012 by Lloyd Webber's collaborator and Special Olivier Award recipient Tim Rice who has said the Olympics will be good for the West End as there will be a lot more tourists around, a view backed up by two-third of the 32,000 theatregoers who responded to a Whatsonstage.com poll earlier this year.


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