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How does London going into “tier three” affect West End theatres?

Sophie Thomas
Sophie Thomas

UPDATE: On 19 December, it was confirmed that London has been upgraded to a "tier four" area. Check here for the latest information on how this affects London theatres.

On 16 December, London will be upgraded from "tier two" to "tier three" with the highest restrictions placed in order to combat coronavirus. As a result, live theatre and entertainment will be forced to close, with all performances suspended

What does "tier three" mean for London theatres?

With London going into "tier three", it means that all theatres must close, regardless of seating capacity. From 16 December, all socially-distanced shows in London will not be able to go ahead. Livestreamed shows and rehearsals are still allowed in tier three, as confirmed by Oliver Dowden last month

How long will London theatres be in lockdown for in December?

At the moment, it is unknown how long London theatres will be locked down for. Theatres will be closed from 16 December, with the next review scheduled in seven days (23 December.) However, reviews may not always mean that London's tier status changes, and London theatres will only reopen when London is back in the "tier two" category.

Can I watch West End theatre online while London is in "tier three"?

Yes! Although London theatres will be closed from 16 December, there are a variety of livestreams taking place so you can still watch theatre. Here's our guide to the best of British theatre in your living room. Or, why not get excited for Christmas theatre coming to your television

Which West End shows are cancelled or postponed because of Covid-19?

Below, we've listed what this means for all productions in December, previously scheduled to be staged in front of a live audience. We'll update this page with the latest news on each show, so be sure to bookmark this page and stay up to date with all the news on London's theatres.

Almeida Theatre

Nine Lessons and Carols is now cancelled at the Almeida Theatre. Previews began at the Almeida Theatre on 3 December. A streamed performance will be available to 2 Jan. 2021. In a review from LondonTheatre.co.uk, Matt Wolf said: "as we come to the end of a dark year, not to mention the arrival of the winter solstice, it's hard not to be stirred by Memon's closing insistence that we "hold the light." 

Apollo Theatre

Everybody's Talking About Jamie reopened on 12 December, and will now suspend performances to 8th January at the earliest. The Vivienne's Christmas on 21 December is now cancelled.

Bridge Theatre

A Christmas Carol began performances on 3 December, starring Simon Russell Beale, Patsy Ferran and Eben Figueiredo. Information on future performances is to be announced. In a five-star review for LondonTheatre.co.uk, Matt Wolf said: "the production's real success has not to do with clothes but with an ability to remint this appeal to the heart so that it honestly and urgently pierces 

Bush Theatre

Overflow opened at the Bush Theatre on 8 December. Information on future performances is to be confirmed.

Charing Cross Theatre

The Elf Who Was Scared of Christmas, starring Gina Beck and Neil McDermott brought Christmas cheer from 8 December. All future performances at Charing Cross Theatre are suspended.

Dominion Theatre

A Christmas Carol, starring Brian Conley, Jacqueline Jossa and Matt Willis began performances from 7 December, ahead of an opening night on 14 December. A Christmas Carol will then be suspended from 16 December.

Duchess Theatre

The Play That Goes Wrong will be suspended once again to 8th January at the earliest.

Garrick Theatre

 As Nimax Theatres will open from 9 Jan. 2021 at the earliest, all remaining performances of Death Drop and Potted Panto will be cancelled. Here Come The Boys has also moved its opening date, now beginning performances in March 2021.

Gatsby's Drugstore

The Great Gatsby will close its doors again from 16 December. In a statement, producers Louis Hartshorn and Brian Hook said, "This is a hammer blow to an industry which has been fighting valiantly to bring culture and community to people's lives this Christmas. The Government has created a situation where millions of pounds have been spent on re-launching productions and shut them down just as revenue is about to be generated, leaving even more organisations in extreme financial difficulty and putting jobs for permanent staff and freelancers alike at even greater risk."

Hampstead Theatre

Performances of the 60th anniversary production of The Dumb Waiter, will be suspended from 16 December. The Dumb Waiter will now open from 4 - 30 Jan. 2021. 

London Palladium

Oh yes, it is (sadly!) Pantoland at the Palladium will be closed from 16 December. In a statement from Michael Harrison, director of Pantoland at the Palladium, he said: "We are deeply concerned about the economic impact of today's decision for businesses in the West End and believe that we have done everything possible to ensure a Covid-secure environment within The London Palladium for our audiences, following all advice from Government. Whilst the safety and health of our visitors, staff and performers is of extreme importance, the Government's yo-yoing approach on advice is frankly appalling. It is not possible for any business to function in an environment where our leaders seem to have simply no idea how our country will look from one week to the next. The advice is bordering on incompetent."​

Lyric Theatre

After opening at the Lyric Theatre on 5 December, Six' reign will be suspended once again from 16 December to 8 Jan. 2021. 

National Theatre

Dick Whittington will be performed at the National to 15 December. However, Dick Whittington will be able to watch for free from 23 December.

Noel Coward Theatre

The Comeback sees The Pin make their short-lived West End debut, with performances suspended from 16 December. In a statement from Sonia Friedman, "Following the devastating announcement that London will be entering Tier 3 on Wednesday 16th Dec, THE COMEBACK performances from Wednesday 16th Dec onwards have been postponed. Having installed extensive safety measures at the theatre, for the last week of previews we have been welcoming delighted audiences to the Noel Coward Theatre to enjoy this brilliant, funny and heart-warming show. They have left the theatre uplifted, energized and reminded about the power of theatre and the vital role it can play in the mental well-being of the community... But let me be clear -The Comeback WILL be back. It is our intention to resume THE COMEBACK performances as soon as government restrictions allow."

Palace Theatre

West End Musical Christmas will now no longer take place between 17-20 December. Performances of Jimmy Carr: Terribly Funny at the Palace Theatre are also cancelled.

Riverside Studios

All performances in the advertised Christmas season from 16 December will be suspended. This includes Christmas at the Movies from 16 - 20 December and Great Expectations from 21 - 23 December.

Sondheim Theatre

Performances of Les Miserables: The All-Star Staged Concert will be suspended from 16 December. In a statement from Cameron Mackintosh, "The sudden volt face by the government in deciding to immediately put London into Tier 3 and shut down the West End is devastating for both the theatre and the economy... We have almost 100 mostly self-employed performers and staff working on Les Misérables - The Staged Concert at the Sondheim Theatre.  At a stroke, this government has tipped them into unemployment just in time for Christmas - Bah Humbug to the Prime Minister and the men in white coats.  We will have to disappoint thousands of patrons over the next few weeks who were booked to safely see Les Mis over the holidays. We intend to continue performances in January as soon as we are allowed to and demand clarity of a date as soon as possible.  Where is the leadership this government promised? All we have is empty words and empty chairs!"

Theatre Royal Haymarket

Love Letters transferred from Windsor to London, however performances will be suspended in the capital from 16 December.

Turbine Theatre

Cinderella will be cancelled at the Turbine from 16 December. However, Cinderella will be available to stream from 16 December to 1 Jan. 2021.

Vaudeville Theatre

Performances of Mischief Movie Night will be suspended from 16 December to 8 Jan. 2021. 

Unaffected: Adelphi Theatre, Aldwych Theatre, Ambassadors Theatre, Apollo Victoria Theatre, Arts Theatre, Cambridge Theatre, Criterion Theatre, Donmar Warehouse, Duke of York's Theatre, Fortune Theatre, Gielgud Theatre, Gillian Lynne Theatre, Harold Pinter Theatre, Her Majesty's Theatre, London Coliseum, London County Hall, Lyceum Theatre, Novello Theatre, Peacock Theatre, Phoenix Theatre, Piccadilly Theatre, Playhouse Theatre, Prince Edward Theatre, Prince of Wales Theatre, Savoy Theatre, Shaftesbury Theatre, St. Martin's Theatre, The Old Vic, Theatre Royal Drury Lane, Trafalgar Theatre, Troubadour Wembley Park Theatre, Victoria Palace Theatre, Wyndham's Theatre

Photo credit: London skyline (Photo by Alexander London on Unsplash)

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