ENTERTAINMENT
09/06/2021 08:52 BST

Andrew Lloyd Webber Says He Will Risk Arrest To Fully Reopen His Theatres

The impresario has vowed to open “come hell or high water”.

Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber has said he will risk arrest in a bid to fully reopen his theatres on 21 June.

The impresario is determined to open even if the lifting of lockdown in postponed, and is prepared to be arrested if authorities try to intervene.

Lord Lloyd Webber told the Daily Telegraph he may have to sell his six West End theatres if the government does not relax restrictions.

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Andrew Lloyd Webber

He also revealed he has already remortgaged his London home after the pandemic had a catastrophic financial impact on the theatre industry.

Many venues remained closed despite the current easing in Covid-19 restrictions as it is not financially viable for them to open with reduced capacities to account for social distancing. 

Lord Lloyd-Webber is preparing for a production of Cinderella, which is scheduled to open for previews on 25 June ahead of its world premiere in July.

“We are going to open, come hell or high water,” he told the Telegraph.

Asked what he would do if the government postponed lifting lockdown, he said: “We will say: ‘come to the theatre and arrest us’.”

There is currently doubt over whether there will be a delay to the 21 June reopening over concerns about the impact of the Delta variant of the virus. 

However, Lord Lloyd-Webber has said scientific evidence shows theatres are “completely safe” and do not cause outbreaks.

He added: “If the government ignore their own science, we have the mother of all legal cases against them. If Cinderella couldn’t open, we’d go, ‘Look, either we go to law about it or you’ll have to compensate us.’”

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Theatres were forced to close their doors in March last year, with some still not having reopened

Speaking on Sky News, communities secretary Robert Jenrick said he “completely sympathised” when asked about Lord Lloyd-Webber’s comments.

“We want to get them open, we are doing pilots, we want to get those theatres open so great new productions like Cinderella can open,” Jenrick told presenter Kay Burley.

“I know that people are desperate to go to them, tickets are selling fast for all those productions because people have been away too long.

“But you have just got a few more days to wait until the judgment that the prime minister is going to make on the basis of the data.”

When asked if Lord Lloyd-Webber should be arrested if he does open theatres without restrictions relaxing, Jenrick added: “We all have to abide by the rules.

“I’m not going to get into speculation about that but we want to get those theatres back open, obviously as quickly as we can, and to support people like Andrew Lloyd Webber so that we can all enjoy brilliant productions in the West End once again.”