Has Phantom of the Opera closed ‘permanently’ in the West End?
Cameron Mackintosh states that the long-running hit may not return but is “determined” to bring it back.
Producer Cameron Mackintosh, writing in London’s Evening Standard newspaper about his frustration with the government's handling of the Covid-19 crisis, has stated that his London production of The Phantom of the Opera has “permanently shut down.” While going on to say he and Andrew Lloyd Webber, the show's composer and co-producer, “are determined to bring it back,” his statement has been widely reported as signifying the end of the Phantom’s 34-year reign of London’s theatreland.
However, in a contradictory tweet sent shortly after the Mackintosh article was released, Lloyd Webber said, “As far as I’m concerned Phantom will reopen as soon as is possible”.
In the Evening Standard article, Mackintosh goes on to discuss his recent “downsizing” of his organisation, required to ensure the survival of his company. “The theatre has made me a wealthy man,” he writes, “but I have already ploughed back most of that wealth into my business, refurbishing my theatres, keeping my shows in tip-top shape, as well as supporting the livelihood of thousands of talented colleagues around the world. With theatres closed indefinitely, I have had to let go all the actors, musicians, stage staff and freelancers that work for me.”
Reflecting on Lloyd Webber’s recent trial of social distancing at the London Palladium, Mackintosh writes, "Even the most optimistic theatre practitioners among us came to the conclusion that it is a disaster", adding “it was all Alice in Wonderland in its ridiculousness.” Mackintosh reaffirmed his stance that he would not open his own theatres with social distancing, saying he had “…been totally opposed to (it) from the outset."
The article from Mackintosh came a day ahead of Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden’s statement that no confirmation on theatre reopening without social distancing would be heard until November at the earliest.
The London production of The Phantom of the Opera opened at Her Majesty’s Theatre in October 1986, where it has continued to run, making it the second-longest running musical in West End history, beaten only by Mackintosh’s own production of Les Misérables. Phantom is co-produced by Mackintosh with Lloyd Webber’s Really Useful Group.
Her Majesty’s Theatre is owned by Lloyd Webber’s own company, LW Theatres.