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What will the West End look like in 2021?

Sophie Thomas
Sophie Thomas

UPDATE: On 22 February, it was announced that theatres can reopen from 17 May. Read the latest information here.

West End theatres are currently closed, as a result of England being placed in a national lockdown. With all live performances currently suspended and London theatres closed, we're all wondering what West End theatre in 2021 will look like.

Here's the latest information on what the West End landscape looks like in 2021, updated regularly in line with the latest coronavirus guidelines in England. A Coronavirus roadmap will be announced on 22 February to ease the country out of lockdown. Here's what it could mean for West End theatres.

Tickets for West End shows currently taking place in 2021 are on sale now with LondonTheatre.co.uk.

How long will London be in lockdown?

At the moment, nobody knows how long London will be put in lockdown. On 27 January, it was announced that lockdown measures will remain in place until 8 March. While in lockdown, all indoor entertainment and tourist venues must close, including cinemas, theatres, and concert halls. 

London will be downgraded into a "tier two" area once government and scientific officials can agree that the rate of infection is low enough to be deemed safe.

When will the West End be open again?

Boris Johnson spoke in the House of Commons on 22 February. In conjuction with the vaccine rollout, theatres will be able to open again from 17 May as part of step three. In step four, all theatres can open with no social distancing rules in place from 21 June. Read the latest information here

It's important to note that these are provisional dates, stated now in line with current vaccine rollouts and stats. However, moves to different steps will be led by data, rather than dates. 

Cameron Mackintosh has projected a May 2021 return for Les Miserables at the Sondheim Theatre. Also, Andrew Lloyd Webber confirming that The Phantom of the Opera will open again at Her Majesty's Theatre in July 2021, starring Killian Donnelly. Here's all the dates that West End shows are due to return. 

Will London theatres be in lockdown for all of 2021?

Again, it's unknown whether any London theatre will be able to open in 2021. However, with the coronavirus vaccine now rolled out across England and the United Kingdom, we're hopeful that coronavirus rates will lower significantly and theatres can open again.

Nimax Theatres will all open in May, says Chief Executive Nica Burns. This affects the Apollo Theatre, Duchess Theatre, Garrick Theatre, Lyric Theatre, Palace Theatre and the Vaudeville Theatre.

All ATG theatres are closed until 3 Apr. 2021 at the earliest. This affects the Ambassadors Theatre, Duke of York's Theatre, Fortune Theatre, Harold Pinter Theatre, Piccadilly Theatre, Playhouse Theatre and Savoy Theatre.

Here's our guide for the full list of shows in London affected by Coronavirus.

What London theatres will open first?

On 10 February, Andrew Lloyd Webber spoke on Good Morning Britain about the future of opening London shows. When asked about the possibility of open air performances, Webber said: "ventilation is the key to opening theatres" which suggests how important fresh, clean air is to keep audiences and cast members safe. Asked about the state of London theatres, he continued to say: "it's better to spend money to allow theatres to get into a state where they can safely receive audiences. I wouldn't have spent money on people doing nothing, I'd have spent it on the buidlings." 

Open air theatres in London include Regent's Park Open Air Theatre, Shakespeare's Globe and Grosvenor Park Open Air Theatre.

Speaking to the Evening Standard, Society of London Theatre President Eleanor Lloyd said: "it will take around six months for venues to return to normal once the go-ahead is given. "Cancellation insurance to cover re-opening is an 'enabler' - something the majority of large and medium-sized productions need now to be able to plan their opening for later this year." 

Are London theatres closing soon?

No. West End theatres in London are not permanently closed. London theatres have suspended their performances until it is safe to reopen once again.

Can I watch West End theatre online while London is in lockdown?

Yes! Although London theatres will be closed to the public while in lockdown, 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 and musical offerings you can watch on Netflix.

What West End shows are returning in 2021? 

Currently, it's unknown which West End shows will be returning in the New Year. So far, Tina the MusicalHamiltonDear Evan Hansen and Harry Potter and the Cursed Child all have return dates in the first half of 2021. Obviously, performance schedules may change, however we're remaining optimistic that West End theatre in 2021 can go ahead as close to normal as possible.

Check out our guide for more information.

What shows are on in London in 2021?

London audiences will be treated to world premieres and West End transfers in 2021. New musicals coming soon include Cinderella starring Carrie Hope Fletcher, Samantha Barks in Frozen, Get Up: Stand Up! The Bob Marley Story and Moulin Rouge: The Musical. Audiences can also catch West End revivals of Anything Goes starring Megan Mullally, Sister Act starring Whoopi Goldberg and Good starring David Tennant.

Book West End theatre tickets for shows in 2021 now.

This article was first published on 16 December 2020 and has been updated to reflect recent updates.

Photo credit: London Skyline (Photo by David Dibert on Unsplash)

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