Entertainment

Andrew Lloyd Webber taking part in COVID-19 vaccine trial

Composer Andrew Lloyd Webber, who recently vowed to reopen London’s “The Phantom of the Opera” despite what the show’s producer called a “huge financial hit” from the coronavirus shutdown, has volunteered to get an experimental COVID-19 vaccine “to prove that theatres can re-open safely.”

“I am excited that tomorrow I am going to be vaccinated for the Oxford Covid 19 trial,” Webber tweeted today. “I’ll do anything to prove that theatres can re-open safely.”

The “Cats” composer apparently was referring to the vaccine being developed by Oxford University and the drug company AstraZeneca. Thousands of people in the UK, the United States, Brazil and South Africa have volunteered to take part in clinical trials for a drug that’s showed early promise.

Both Webber and his longtime producer Cameron Mackintosh have decried London’s theater shutdown and what they say is the government’s weak response to assist the industry. Last month, Mackintosh said in a column he wrote for the UK’s Evening Standard, “With no endgame to this crisis in sight, last week I had to follow through with the awful, distressing downsizing of my organization to ensure my company’s survival …”

The London and UK touring productions of “The Phantom of the Opera,” Mackintosh wrote, are “permanently shut down,” though he later backtracked a bit. Webber responded to Mackintosh’s column by tweeting, “As far as I’m concerned ‘Phantom’ will reopen as soon as is possible.”

As with Broadway, London’s theaters have been closed since March due to the pandemic. While Broadway is officially closed until January – with shutdown extensions possible and no shows currently planning to return before Spring 2021 – some London theaters are considering a phased reopening beginning this Fall, with reduced audience capacities. London’s Bridge Theatre recently announced a production of David Hare’s new one-man play “Beat the Devil,” starring Ralph Fiennes, with a target opening night in September or October.




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