Lloyd Webber ‘wants to prove theatres can reopen’

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Lord Lloyd-Webber called on the theatre community to “be positive”

Andrew Lloyd Webber is to conduct a series of tests at one of his theatres with the aim of showing the government that venues like it can reopen safely.

The 72-year-old said he wanted to trial measures that have enabled The Phantom of the Opera to reopen in South Korea.

Lord Lloyd-Webber said he hoped to test hygienic door handles, thermal imaging cameras and other measures at the London Palladium in early July.

“I really believe that we in theatre must be positive,” he told the BBC.

“What I hope to do is to be able to demonstrate to the government what has happened in Korea,” he said on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Friday.

“The whole point is to try and make people feel as safe and secure as they possibly can.”

He said Phantom had been able to continue in Seoul without the need for social distancing, which he called “impossible in the theatre”.

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Reuters

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Disinfectant “fog” is one of the hygiene measures being used in South Korea

Other measures put in place to combat the coronavirus pandemic include a disinfectant “fog” that Lord Lloyd-Webber said had “a 30-day life span”.

The theatre community, he continued, should “use everything we can to demonstrate we can open. If having done that we fail, at least we’ve tried”.

His comments came after Phantom, Les Miserables and two other musicals were pulled from the West End for the rest of the year.

Producer Sir Cameron Mackintosh attributed the “heartbreaking” decision to “continued uncertainty” over when the government will withdraw social distancing measures.

On Wednesday, Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said he would bring “leading performers” together to develop a “road map” for performing safely.

But he admitted it would be “exceptionally difficult” for venues to reopen from 4 July – the current scheduled date for stage three of the government’s reopening plan.

This week saw Phoebe Waller-Bridge, James McAvoy and other theatre notables call on the government to take action to prevent the sector from collapse.

Toby Jones, Andrew Scott and Sir Tom Stoppard also added their names to an open letter stating British theatre was “on the brink of ruin” and faced “an existential threat”.

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