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Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical adaptation of Cinderella has been forced to temporarily shutter in London’s West End due to the growing Omicron surge, one of the numerous shows that have been severely impacted by the resurgent COVID-19 pandemic.
The production — which canceled several shows last week at the Gillian Lynne Theater — announced late Dec 21 that it was suspended all performances until Feb. 9 in order to “avoid more disruption and to protect the quality of the show we give our audiences.”
On Twitter, Lloyd Webber said that he was “absolutely devastated” by the decision, but said it was the “right thing to do” for both the audience and the safety of the cast, musicians and backstage crew.
“Once again, this wretched virus has put paid to the joy of entertaining audiences, something that I hold so dear,” he added.
Cinderella is the biggest West End production to shut down in response to the steep rise in COVID-19 infections in the U.K. driven by the new, highly infectious Omicron variant of the virus. There is growing pressure on the British government to introduce tighter COVID regulations or even a new general lockdown, but the government of Prime Minister Boris Johnson has indicated it will not take any new action before Christmas.
The news come just a day after the U.K. authorities unveiled a support package aimed at helping businesses during the Omicron surge, including a 30 million pound ($40 million) boost to the Cultural Recovery Fund. Although the details of how this money will be spent is yet to be revealed, with cinemas having had a buoyant couple of months thanks to No Time to Die and, most recently, Spider-man: No Way Home, the vast bulk is expected to go to theaters.
Cinderella — which was also forced to close in July 2021 just a day before its official opening — joins a growing list of stage casualties in both the West End and Broadway during the usual busy festive period. Hamilton, Aladdin, Lion King, Dear Evan Hansen, Ain’t Too Proud and Hadestown on Broadway have all canceled performances through Christmas.
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