'I am just saying it with passion – please, please will this government for once listen to us'
Andrew Lloyd Webber has criticised the government for "endless blunt instruments" as he urged ministers to "just listen" as his West End show Cinderella was cancelled.
The theatre impresario said the current system around self-isolation is “completely, completely untenable” and his industry has been left “on its knees”.
He had earlier announced Cinderella would not be returning to the stage on Monday after a member of the cast tested positive for Covid-19 on Saturday.
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He said: “We can’t isolate every time somebody may or may not have it. It just simply doesn’t work.
“I say this from the heart, I am seeing the profession I have loved, I’m seeing musical theatre I think I had a small part in pioneering in this country at a time when frankly the British were not considered to be people who could do musicals.
“And I am just saying it with passion – please, please will this government for once listen to us.
“Listen. We do know what we’re doing, we do. Just listen and knock all these platitudes and endless, endless blunt instruments that don’t apply across the board.”
He added he "can't get to grips with" what he sees as the government's failure to understand that "theatre is the lifeblood of our cities."
The proceeds of Monday's show had been due to go to charity, with Tuesday's performance a special show for NHS workers.
It's unclear how long the show will be closed for.
Two performances of the musical at London’s Gillian Lynne Theatre were previously axed on Saturday.
“We have been forced into a devastating decision which will affect the lives and livelihoods of hundreds of people and disappoint the thousands who have booked to see the show,” he said earlier on Monday.
“Cinderella was ready to go. My sadness for our cast and crew, our loyal audience and the industry I have been fighting for is impossible to put into words.”
Monday would have been the first day the production could be staged in front of a full capacity audience following the lifting of coronavirus restrictions in England.
It comes as the Prime Minister announced a relaxation of isolation rules for some essential NHS staff.
Businesses up and down the country have lamented the 'pingdemic' which has seen swathes of workforces self-isolating as restrictions ease and cases increase.
The government has stuck by the NHS app system, however, saying it won't be adjusted.
Lord Lloyd-Webber said earlier: “At Cinderella, from the outset, we have employed a rigorous testing system for all the cast and backstage crew before they begin work.
“On Saturday, as part of this process, we identified one positive case in a member of our cast who has a cameo role in the show.
“As a precautionary measure, we cancelled two shows on Saturday while we carried out further tests on everyone backstage, which were negative.
“Any of those who were identified as a close contact of the positive case were given additional PCR tests.
“These tests too were negative. This morning we carried out additional tests on those due to perform tonight. Every one of them was negative.”
Lord Lloyd-Webber is among figures from the theatre and music sectors, including musician Peter Gabriel, theatre producer Sir Cameron Mackintosh and music industry trade body Live, who launched legal action to force the government to hand over the results from its coronavirus pilot events scheme.
The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport has been contacted for comment.