As the U.K. theatre industry suffers a blow due to capacity restrictions being extended into July, industry bigwigs are pressuring their government, through legal action, to release data that could aid in a full reopening.
Among the group suing, according to BBC, are Andrew Lloyd Webber, Cameron Mackintosh, and Sonia Friedman—all three of whom have been adamant about the economic necessity of reopening at full capacity.
The BBC reports that data was expected to be made available the week of June 14. ERP says results will be published sometime before the U.K. enters Step 4, which would effectively lift all remaining coronavirus restrictions for theatres and other live venues. That was initially slated to happen June 21, but as cases rise with the spread of the Delta variant, those plans have been put on hold until July 19 (or sooner, depending on vaccine rates)."We simply must now see the data that is being used to strangle our industry so unfairly,” Lloyd Webber said.
Royal Albert Hall CEO Craig Hassall elaborated on the ramifications of the data remaining unreleased: "The chronic uncertainty and endless indecisiveness from government, and pilot events with no published results, have damaged audience confidence and further harmed a sector that has already been decimated by the pandemic.”
The action is a follow-through of sorts on Lloyd Webber’s insinuation that he would rather face legal battle (or arrest) than open his newest West End production, a contemporary adaptation of Cinderella, at less than full capacity. Around the time of the Step 4 delay, Lloyd Webber turned down the opportunity to participate in a new pilot program that would have allowed the new musical to play to full houses, saying the rejection was in solidarity with other theatres that were not afforded the lifeline.
Cinderella will now play to 50 percent capacity when it begin performances June 25.