Corona Chronicles: London Theater Dark Until 2021?

June 17, 2021–Some of London’s most popular West End shows, including “Hamilton” and “The Phantom of the Opera,” won’t reopen until next year, producers announced Wednesday, as arts bodies warned that Britain faces a “cultural catastrophe” because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Producer Cameron Mackintosh, his producing partners and his Delfont Mackintosh Theatres group said Hamilton, The Phantom of the Opera, Mary Poppins and Les Miserables, would return “as early as practical in 2021.”
The company said it was talking to staff about “potential redundancies.”

Mackintosh, one of Britain’s biggest and wealthiest theater producers, said the decision was “heartbreaking” and criticized Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government for offering stage producers “no tangible practical support beyond offers to go into debt, which I don’t want to do.”

He said the government’s “inability to say when the impossible constraints of social distancing will be lifted makes it equally impossible for us to properly plan for whatever the new future is.”

Music, theater, art, design, architecture and publishing generate billions for the British economy each year, but the country’s clubs, theaters, cinemas, concert halls and art galleries shut down in March as part of a nationwide lockdown to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Shops and outdoor spaces such as zoos are now starting to reopen, but indoor venues remain closed because of social distancing rules that require people to remain two meters (six-and-a-half feet) apart.