Theatre producer Sir Cameron Mackintosh has said that West End and Broadway theatres are unlikely to be able to stage musicals until early next year.
Speaking to Michael Ball on BBC Radio 2, Sir Cameron said it’s impossible for theatres to plan for the future while social distancing is in place.
“We want the audience to feel safe, and we want the actors to feel safe.”
Theatres in many countries have been closed indefinitely in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
In the UK, all West End performances have been cancelled until at least 31 May.
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Sir Cameron is a lauded theatre owner and theatrical producer, who has staged musicals including Cats, Les Miserables and the Phantom of the Opera.
His comments follow calls from other theatre professionals for urgent government bailouts, in order to save the industry from collapse.
What did Sir Cameron say?
Sir Cameron told Michael Ball it looked as if the West End and Broadway “are going to be the last to go back”.
“For major producers both sides of the Atlantic, the truth is until social distancing doesn’t exist anymore, we can’t even plan to reopen,” he said.
“We will be back, but we need time to get back. If we don’t hear [about lockdowns lifting] in a few weeks, I think the truth is we won’t be able to come back until early next year. I think that’s quite clear.
“And the longer it is until we can say social distancing is gone, the longer it’ll be for the theatre to come back.”
Last month, playwright James Graham said an “aggressive government bailout” would be needed to save UK theatres from the impact of the pandemic.
In several months’ time, “all of the reserves will have dried up and there will be no money left”, Graham warned.
“I don’t even know if there will be a theatre or film industry that we can recognise when this is all over.”