Acclaimed British theatre producer Sir Cameron Mackintosh recently shared his views on the future of the West End and Broadway. Most well known for shows like Les Misérables, Mary Poppins, Hamilton and The Phantom of the Opera, Mackintosh has said that his and Andrew Lloyd-Webber’s touring and London productions of The Phantom of the Opera have “sadly permanently had to shut down” however the duo are determined to bring the show “back to London in the future”.
Mackintosh echoed the perils behind social distancing for live entertainment when he said:
London’s theatre crisis rose to new heights of absurdity last week when Andrew Lloyd Webber brilliantly exposed the artistic and commercial bankruptcy of trying to apply social distancing to indoor mainstream theatre. Even the most optimistic theatre practitioners among us came to the conclusion that it is a disaster.
He went on to discuss the impact COVID-19 had on his own organisation – which have subsequently had to terminate contracts and result in a widespread wave of redundancies. Mackintosh said that he has had to reduce nearly 60% of his company and that he has “had to let go of all the actors, musicians, stage staff and freelancers that work for me”. However he has reiterated that he endeavours to start re-employing most of his staff by next year.
Mackintosh went on to say:
With no endgame to this crisis in sight, last week I had to follow through with the awful, distressing downsizing of my organisation to ensure my company’s survival. In early May, I warned Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden and the government that this would be necessary unless we received financial help. Despite the recent announcement of a £1.57 billion rescue fund for the arts, this help still hasn’t materialised.
When COVID hit, all my eight theatres were packed with hit shows, including some of my own. So as by far the largest independent employer in the West End, it is not surprising that as both theatre owner and producer, with no outside investors, I’ve taken a huge financial hit.
The Phantom of the Opera had been running at Her Majesty’s theatre for 34 years.