A number of the most popular West End shows will not be returning to the stage until at least 2021, BBC News has revealed. Hamilton, Les Miserables, Mary Poppins and The Phantom Of The Opera are among those which will definitely not be showing for the rest of this year.
The producer of the four shows, Sir Cameron Mackintosh admitted that drastic measures would have to be taken to ensure the survival of the theatres, which would include redundancies, something he described as "heartbreaking". He added that next year would be the earliest that the shows could practically open.
"The commercial theatre provides billions of pounds of revenue to the economy," Mackintosh said. "It is time this is recognised and the government takes action to ensure this priceless resource is helped to survive."
Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden announced in one of the government's daily coronavirus briefings that he was in contact with Mackintosh and a number of other industry figures to work together with medical experts on the issue facing theatres.
"The idea is that they will work together in detail to develop that roadmap which is so badly needed to performing safely – with a particular focus on piloting innovative ideas that may permit live performances."
Theatres in London and across the country have been shut since mid March when the UK's national lockdown came into place, with many now facing closure unless they received significant financial help. As early as April, playwright James Graham said an "aggressive government bailout" was necessary.
"You need people around you to see it and do it and there is no middle ground now. If it's going to survive in any form it will need an aggressive government bailout and you either do or you don't do it. There is either theatre or there isn't any more.
"So there is kind of a clarity to what we need to ask government to do for it to survive and hopefully they will do it."
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