Andrew Lloyd Webber Announces Cancellation of Cinderella's West End Opening

London News   Andrew Lloyd Webber Announces Cancellation of Cinderella's West End Opening
 
Performances are halted indefinitely but the production hopes to resume at a later date.
Carrie Hope Fletcher and cast of <i>Cinderella</i>
Carrie Hope Fletcher and cast of Cinderella Tristram Kenton

"Freedom day has turned into closure day," said Andrew Lloyd Webber on Twitter upon announcing the closure of his new musical Cinderella due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The show halted performances July 17 due to a positive COVID-19 case and was set to resume July 19.

A spokesperson for the show said, "It’s hard to see a route forward under the current rules, but we will do everything we can to come back." Previews for the highly anticipated London premiere began June 25 at the Gillian Lynne Theatre at 50 percent capacity. An opening night was set for July 20.

"Today, on this 'Freedom Day,' I have been forced to take the heart-breaking decision not to open my Cinderella. ...The impossible conditions created by the blunt instrument that is the Government’s isolation guidance, mean that we cannot continue," wrote Lloyd Webber. "We have been forced into a devastating decision which will affect the lives and livelihoods of hundreds of people and disappoint the thousands who have booked to see the show. Cinderella was ready to go. My sadness for our cast and crew, our loyal audience and the industry I have been fighting for is impossible to put into words. Freedom Day has turned into closure day."

Cinderella features an updated story and book by Oscar-winning screenwriter Emerald Fennell, with music by Lloyd Webber and lyrics by David Zippel. Also attached to the project: director Laurence Connor, choreographer JoAnn Hunter, set and costume designer Gabriela Tylesova, sound designer Gareth Owen, lighting designer Bruno Poet, and co-musical supervisor John Rigby.

Rebecca Trehearn, Sam Robinson, Vinny Coyle, and Giovanni Spano in <i>Cinderella</i>
Rebecca Trehearn, Sam Robinson, Vinny Coyle, and Giovanni Spano in Cinderella Tristram Kenton

The contemporary take on the fairy tale starred Carrie Hope Fletcher in the title role. Joining her were Victoria Hamilton-Barritt as the Stepmother, Ivano Turco as Prince Sebastian, Rebecca Trehearn as The Queen, Georgina Castle and Laura Baldwin as Cinderella’s stepsisters, and Gloria Onitiri as The Godmother.

READ: How the Pandemic Inspired JoAnn M. Hunter to Create a New Waltz for Cinderella

The news comes on the heels of a number of reports out of the West End. Several productions, including Wonderville and Hairspray, have been forced to either delay the start of performances or suspend production for a number of days due to COVID-19 cases backstage, while The Mousetrap and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (another Lloyd Webber production) will begin playing to 100 percent capacity July 20, according to their websites. The Prince of Egypt announced it would allow full houses beginning July 23.

Read Andrew Lloyd Webber's full statement below.

"Today, on this 'Freedom Day,' I have been forced to take the heart-breaking decision not to open my Cinderella. At Cinderella, from the outset, we have employed a rigorous testing system for all the cast and backstage crew before they begin work. On Saturday, as part of this process, we identified one positive case in a member of our cast who has a cameo role in the show. As a precautionary measure, we canceled two shows on Saturday while we carried out further tests on everyone backstage, which were negative. Any of those who were identified as a close contact of the positive case were given additional PCR tests. These tests too were negative. This morning we carried out additional tests on those due to perform tonight. Every one of them was negative.

"Despite this, the impossible conditions created by the blunt instrument that is the Government’s isolation guidance, mean that we cannot continue. We have been forced into a devastating decision which will affect the lives and livelihoods of hundreds of people and disappoint the thousands who have booked to see the show.

"Cinderella was ready to go. My sadness for our cast and crew, our loyal audience and the industry I have been fighting for is impossible to put into words. Freedom Day has turned into closure day."

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