U.K. Theater Producer Warns West End, Broadway "Could Be Closed Until Next Year"

The Prince of Egypt, London Theatre - Production Still 1 - Publicity-H 2020
Courtesy of Matt Crockett ©DWA LLC

Cameron Mackintosh said that theaters "can't even plan to reopen" until "social distancing doesn't exist anymore."

Cameron Mackintosh, one of the biggest names in British theater, has said that stage productions in the West End and on Broadway are unlikely to open until 2021. 

"For major producers on both sides of the Atlantic, the truth is until social distancing doesn't exist anymore, we can't even plan to reopen," he said in an interview on BBC Radio 2 on Sunday.

Theaters were among the first businesses to close in the U.K. when the coronavirus pandemic began to spread in March, but Mackintosh — who owns a number of theaters and has been behind numerous successful musicals, including Cats and Les Miserables — said that they're also likely to be among the last businesses to reopen. 

"We will be back, but we need time to get back," he said. "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 theater to come back."

In the U.K., all West End performances have been officially canceled until at least May 31. The Broadway League, the trade organization that represents New York's top-tier theater industry, recently extended the Broadway shutdown through June 7. However, subsequent announcements are widely expected to push back that reopening date further as needed.