Coronavirus: Phantom of the Opera to close 'permanently' in the West End

July 28, 2020

Phantom of the Opera, London's second-longest-running musical, has been forced to close permanently on the West End, the show's producer has announced.

The show, which has been running at Her Majesty's Theatre since 1986, will no longer operate in the West End, due to the financial impacts of the ongoing coronavirus restrictions on theatres, producer Cameron Mackintosh has said.

He had previously announced that all his shows in London would return no earlier than 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to hit theatres.

Touring productions of the show, which was written by Andrew Lloyd Webber, will also no longer operate.

Phantom of the Opera tells the story of a mysterious and disfigured mask-wearing musician living underneath the Paris Opera House who becomes obsessed with a woman called Christine.

Mackintosh, one of the country's biggest theatre producers with hits such as Hamilton and Les Miserables to his name, revealed he wanted the show to come back in the future, but for now, it will stay off stages.

Writing in the Evening Standard, Mackintosh attacked government plans to allow theatres to reopen with social-distancing measures in place, claiming it would be "a disaster" for the industry.

"But even without [social distancing], we will need at least four months to remount our productions, rebuild our advance bookings and public confidence and bring our artists back to performance pitch," he added.

Last week, Lloyd Webber put on a socially distanced performance by Beverley Knight in the London Palladium, overseen by Public Health England.

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Guests were seated apart, while whole rows were left empty and patrons were asked to wear face coverings.

Lloyd Webber took to the stage at one point to admit that social distancing in indoor venues was unlikely to work, calling it a "sad sight".

Mackintosh's comments come as the national advisory body for theatres warned that box office revenue is down by more than £300m over the course of the lockdown, threatening dozens of venues with closure.

Last week, Lloyd Webber's Really Useful Group said it is losing up to £6m a week in box office sales, while Shakespeare's Globe and the Old Vic warned the financial consequences of the lockdown could end up closing them for good.

Theatres in Southampton, Bromsgrove and Leicester have already had to permanently close their doors.

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