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Andrew Lloyd Webber hits out at self-isolation rules after Cinderella cancellation
19 July 2021, 19:34 | Updated: 19 July 2021, 21:43
Andrew Lloyd Webber has said "freedom day has turned into closure day" after performances of his West End show Cinderella were cancelled.
In a statement, the impresario branded the government's self-isolation rules a "blunt instrument" as he announced Monday's performance of the musical would not go ahead, a couple of days after two performances at London’s Gillian Lynne Theatre were also axed as a result of a positive coronavirus test amongst the production’s staff.
Lord Lloyd-Webber said that, although other members of the cast had tested negative, the production could now not go ahead because of "the impossible conditions created by the blunt instrument that is the Government's self-isolation guidance".
"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," he added.
"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."
Monday would have been the first day the production could be staged in front of a full capacity audience following the lifting of coronavirus restrictions in England.
Earlier on Monday, it had been announced the performance later that day would be taking place, however it was later confirmed that this would not be the case.
Lord Lloyd-Webber added: "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 cancelled 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."
Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said he was "deeply disappointed" to hear about the cancellation.
He tweeted: "I know how much effort ALW has put into this production, and how much it meant to the cast, crew and theatre lovers alike.
"Whilst the need to self isolate is an economy wide issue, I recognise the particular challenges it presents to the arts and I'm strongly making the case for that in government.
"In the meantime, I hope to see as much open as possible and, where shows are restarting, please give your support by buying a ticket."
Whilst the need to self isolate is an economy wide issue, I recognise the particular challenges it presents to the arts and I'm strongly making the case for that in government. (2/3)— Oliver Dowden (@OliverDowden) July 19, 2021
Last week actors' union Equity called for self-isolation rules for the entertainment industry to be changed, warning current regulations are having a "devastating and costly impact".
A Government spokesperson previously defended the support given to the arts, saying the sector has been given "unprecedented" support.
Cinderella opened last month with an audience capacity of 50 per cent after the impresario rejected Prime Minister Boris Johnson's offer for the show to be included in the live events pilot scheme.
Lord Lloyd-Webber previously said proceeds from Monday's show would be donated to St John Ambulance and the NHS.
Written by The Crown star Emerald Fennell and starring Carrie Hope Fletcher, Cinderella is described as a "complete reinvention" of the classic fairytale and is based on an original idea by Fennell.
Lord Lloyd-Webber is among figures from the theatre and music sectors, including musician Peter Gabriel, theatre producer Sir Cameron Mackintosh and music industry trade body Live, who launched legal action to force the Government to hand over the results from its coronavirus pilot events scheme.
The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport has been contacted for comment.