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Coronavirus UK: Phantom of the Opera ends 34-year West End run

The Phantom of the Opera has been forced to permanently close on the West End amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

The show, which has been running at Her Majesty’s Theatre since 1986, is the second longest-running production in the capital.

However, the financial impact of the pandemic and the continuing restrictions on theatres in the UK, has forced it to close, producer Sir Cameron Mackintosh has said.

Touring productions of the Phantom of the Opera, written by Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber, have also ended.  

Sir Cameron previously said that all of his London shows would be unable to return before 2021. 

The Phantom of the Opera, which has been running at Her Majesty’s Theatre since 1986, has been forced to close

The financial impact of the pandemic and the continuing restrictions on theatres in the UK, has forced it to close, producer Sir Cameron Mackintosh has said

The financial impact of the pandemic and the continuing restrictions on theatres in the UK, has forced it to close, producer Sir Cameron Mackintosh has said

He hopes to get his shows up and running by Easter but has admitted that without government support it could be pushed back into summer, ‘causing further devastating losses to both the theatre industry and London’s economy’.  

He is also the producer behind smash hits Hamilton and Les Miserables. 

Writing in the Evening Standard, he said: ‘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. 

‘On top of this, Andrew and I have had to sadly permanently shut down our London and UK touring productions of The Phantom of the Opera, but are determined to bring it back to London in the future.’

The producer hopes that Phantom of the Opera could return in the future, although he is unsure when that could be. 

The beloved show tells the story of a mask-wearing musician living underneath the Paris Opera House who becomes obsessed with a woman called Christine. 

Sir Cameron has previously criticised the government’s policy towards theatres amid the pandemic. 

In June, he said: ‘Despite the Government engaging with the desperate pleas from everyone in the theatre industry, so far there has been no tangible practical support beyond offers to go into debt, which I don’t want to do.

Musical giants Les Miserables, Mary Poppins and Hamilton will not return to the West End this year

Musical giants Les Miserables, Mary Poppins and Hamilton will not return to the West End this year

‘Their 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.

‘This has forced me to take drastic steps to ensure that I have the resources for my business to survive and enable my shows and theatres to reopen next year when we are permitted to.

‘Everything I have made has come from the theatre and everything I have has gone back into these magnificent historic buildings that I have lovingly restored and the spectacular productions I have painstakingly insisted remain in tip top shape wherever they play in the world – resulting in my being one of the biggest employers in the theatre.

‘The commercial theatre provides billions of pounds of revenue to the economy.

‘It is time this is recognised and the Government takes action to ensure this priceless resource at which the British people excel is helped to survive.

Lord Andrew Lloyd-Webber has warned that Chinese investors could be set to buy up West End theatres if they do not receive urgent funding to help them cope with lockdown fallout

Lord Andrew Lloyd-Webber has warned that Chinese investors could be set to buy up West End theatres if they do not receive urgent funding to help them cope with lockdown fallout

‘Without our theatres being ablaze with life, London cannot properly reopen as one of the world’s greatest cities.’

It comes  as the national advisory body for theatres warned box office revenue is down by more than £300m over the course of the lockdown, threatening venues with closure.   

A report from Oxford Economics previously predicted that the virus would lead to a ‘cultural catastrophe’ with more than 400,000 job losses and a £74billion loss in revenue across the arts industry. 

Andrew Lloyd Webber previously warned that Chinese investors could be set to buy up London’s West End theatres.

The composer told the Daily Telegraph that overseas buyers could take advantage of the precarious financial position that UK theatres find themselves in.

‘There are major buyers circling around who are not British and would like to own West End theatres,’ he said.

He said that during the recent sale of the Theatre Royal Haymarket the price was inflated by a Chinese bidder. 

The theatre was bought for a reported £45 million, paid by the billionaire Sir Leonard Blavatnik in 2018.

This far exceeded other price tags for London theatres, including the Victoria Palace, which Cameron Mackintosh bought for about £26 million in 2014, and the Palace Theatre, in 2012.

Lord Lloyd Webber added: ‘So it might not just be Chinese phone networks the Government has to worry about.’

He also said the sector had received ‘no clarity’ from the Government about how its £1.57 billion support package for the arts will be distributed.

Lord Lloyd Webber warned that without urgent funds and a clear timeline for reopening, theatre owners will be forced to put the buildings up for sale.   

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk