West End production of The Phantom Of The Opera permanently closes 'and more shows will follow'

Her Majesty's Theatre in Haymarket, London, which used to show The Phantom Of The Opera

More shows will close and not reopen and more theatres will go out of business, the chief of the Society of London Theatre and UK Theatre has warned.

Producer Cameron Mackintosh has confirmed that the West End production of The Phantom Of The Opera has permanently closed, while the Theatre Royal in Plymouth and the Theatre Royal in Newcastle are among the venues announcing plans to make redundancies and Southampton’s Nuffield Theatres will close its doors for good.

We will see more theatres go out of business and we will see more shows close and not reopen. Our aim is to try and minimise that, to the best of our ability, but we will see more, there is no doubt.

Julian Bird, UK Theatre chief executive

Writing in the Evening Standard Cameron Mackintosh said: "Andrew (Lloyd Webber) and I have had to sadly permanently shut down our London and UK touring productions of The Phantom Of The Opera, but are determined to bring it back to London in the future."

However, in a short statement on Twitter, Lord Lloyd-Webber said:

Julian Bird said the longer theatres are closed, the more precarious their position becomes.

We’ve gone since March with no income into theatre, so the longer that goes on the more this puts in jeopardy both theatre and their actual venues, but also productions that we know and love. No business can survive on no income for long.

Julian Bird, UK Theatre chief executive
Shaftesbury Avenue in central London during lockdown

Theatres will be allowed to stage indoor performances with social distancing from August 1 but Mr Bird said this will change “pretty much nothing” because it will not be financially viable.

For some smaller theatres with long-running shows like The Mousetrap they believe they can just about make it work to break even. This isn’t about making money but for any show of scale or theatre of scale, it can’t. The test at the Palladium, the pilot with Beverley Knight, showed that is the case. You can’t operate a show with social distancing in place and make it economic it just doesn’t work.

Julian Bird, UK Theatre chief executive