Cameron Mackintosh will not re-open his West End productions, including Les Misérables, The Phantom of the Opera, Mary Poppins and Hamilton, until 2021, he has confirmed.
The mega-producer and one of the most powerful people in UK theatre said continued uncertainty about social distancing requirements had forced him to delay his shows’ return in order to ensure that his company is able to survive the crisis.
Mackintosh said: “This decision is heartbreaking for me, as I am sure it is for my employees, as everyone who has worked with me over the last 50 years, on or off the stage, knows how much I care about what I do and how I do it.
“Despite the government engaging with the desperate pleas from everyone in the theatre industry, so far there has been no tangible practical support beyond offers to go into debt which I don’t want to do. Their inability to say when the impossible constraints of social distancing will be lifted makes it equally impossible for us to properly plan for whatever the new future is. This has forced me to take drastic steps to ensure that I have the resources for my business to survive and enable my shows and theatres to reopen next year when we are permitted to.”
Once social distancing is lifted, Mackintosh said his productions would need several months of preparation in order to be remounted, as well as time for audience confidence to be rebuilt.
Macktinosh added: “I have no investors or venture capital backing, everything is funded by me personally and already my companies’ considerable reserves have been massively reduced by the complete closure of our industry everywhere.”
“The commercial theatre provides billions of pounds of revenue to the economy. It is time this is recognised and the government takes action to ensure this priceless resource at which the British people excel is helped to survive. Without our theatres being ablaze with life, London cannot properly reopen as one of the world’s greatest cities.”
In light of the long-term closure of his theatres, Mackintosh companies, Cameron Mackintosh Limited and Delfont Mackintosh Theatres, have begun a consultation process for possible large scale redundancies.
It was also reported that Nimax Theatres, owners of six West End theatre’s including the Apollo and Palace Theatre, have also begun the consultation process with an expectation of making over 30% of staff redundant.
Andrew Lloyd Webber, who owns seven West End theatres including the London Palladium and Theatre Royal Drury Lane, has yet to announce any planned changes to when his theatres will reopen or if his companies have begun a redundancy consultation process.