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LONDON – British musical impresario Andrew Lloyd Webber and his tweeted pleas for visitors to go to theater land and enjoy London’s west end during the 2012 Olympics appear effective.
Lloyd Webber, whose Really Useful Group hosts a slew of global musical hits including Phantom of the Opera, Shrek and The Wizard of Oz, has said he was wrong to predict a “bloodbath” for London theatre during the Olympics.
Last December, the musical uberproducer predicted on the BBC’s influential news show, Radio 4’s Today program that”nobody’s going to go to the theatre at all [during the Olympic Games].”
But now the composer has told The Telegraph newspaper: “I have been proved wrong and I couldn’t be more delighted about that.”
West End figures published Monday showed box office takings for the first seven days of the London 2012 Games were up £250,000 ($390,000) on the previous week.
Speaking to the BBC on Tuesday, Lloyd-Webber said that Monday night’s takings for Shrek and Phantom of the Opera, both playing at his theaters, were “hugely up.”
He admitted to the BBC: “We did really think we were going to have a moment where it was really very difficult.”
Lloyd-Webber last year warned “most of the theatres in London will shut” during the Games because of concerns over visitors taking in sports and avoiding the arts.
“I just thought ‘oh my God, it’s just not going to happen,’ because there was just nothing in advance you see,” he said of ticket sales for the musical at the London Palladium, hosting The Wizard of Oz, a production he thought of shutting down during the Games.
Other theatres in his Really Useful Group are currently hosting Matilda the Musical and War Horse.
Sweeney Todd, which is playing at the Adelphi, has been put on hold, although Lloyd-Webber revealed he had just been told that its producers were “sorry” they did not run the show through the Olympics.
However, he indicated that theatre audiences were not drawn from the usual overseas summer visitors – with most patrons coming from the U.K. instead.
“They do appear to be mainly British,” he told The Telegraph newspaper. “A lot of people are coming to London and saying ‘let’s take in a show too’, which is great. Feedback from audiences is incredibly positive, so it’s just a question of trying to persuade everyone to go and celebrate the West End for the last few days. I’m afraid in one or two cases we haven’t got any tickets to sell.”
Lloyd-Webber also tweeted to urge visitors to extend their theatre trips to help West End restaurants that are “struggling” during the Olympics.
He tweeted: “Go to the Games, go to the West End, enjoy a show, have a meal. There’ll never be a more joyous time to celebrate what London has to offer.”
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