Andrew Lloyd Webber has said he is determined to open his theatres on 21 June regardless of whether rules are relaxed, and is prepared to be arrested if authorities try to intervene.
The composer said he may have to sell his six West End venues if the government does not remove restrictions that have forced venues to run with reduced capacities.
Speaking to the Daily Telegraph, Lord Lloyd-Webber also revealed he had remortgaged his London home, as the live entertainment industry struggles with the pandemic’s catastrophic financial impact.
Many theatres have remained closed despite the easing of Covid-19 restrictions as it still is not financially viable for them to open with smaller audiences.
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,” Lord Lloyd-Webber 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.”’
The 21 June date for full relaxation of rules in the government’s Covid unlocking roadmap is in doubt due to concerns over the impact of Covid-19 variants and rising cases.
Lloyd Webber claimed scientific evidence showed 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.”’
This is not the first time Lloyd Webber, 73, has criticised those calling for a delay in reopening. Last week he told the Daily Mail he may take legal action if his theatres are not allowed to welcome back crowds at full capacity.