Andrew Lloyd Webber warns arts ‘at point of no return’

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“The Phantom of the Opera” composer Andrew Lloyd Webber has told British lawmakers that the arts are “at the point of no return,” and urged the government to set a date for theaters to be allowed to reopen.

Lloyd Webber spoke about the struggles of staging socially distanced shows and making them profitable, noting that very few shows “hit the jackpot” like “Hamilton,” “Lion King” or “Phantom.”

“We simply have to get our arts sector back open and running … We are at the point of no return, really,” he told Parliament’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee by video. “There comes a point when we really can’t go on anymore. Theatre is an incredibly labour-intensive business. In many ways, putting on a show now is almost a labor of love.”

He added that theater shows are “not like cinema, you can’t just open the building.”

In July, Lloyd Webber’s company staged a pilot concert featuring soul singer Beverley Knight at the London Palladium to test coronavirus-era safety measures like separating clusters of seats and mandatory mask wearing. The theater boss hoped that the trial performance could show how theaters can open at full capacity safely.

Asked about whether he has a message for the British government, Lloyd Webber said: “Give us a date” to reopen.