Andrew Lloyd Webber to reopen London theaters ‘come hell or high water’

Famed British producer and composer Andrew Lloyd Webber said he is debuting “Cinderella” in London this month “come hell or high water,” and he is prepared to be arrested if the U.K. government decides to postpone reopenings at full capacity.

Mr. Lloyd Webber is scheduled to begin previews of the production at London’s Gillian Lynne theater on June 25, four days after the government said it expects to expand theater capacity to 100%.

However, due to the spread of the latest coronavirus strain known as the Delta variant, officials are now considering a four-week delay to the June 21 reopening, Variety reported.

Mr. Lloyd Webber, who owns six venues in London’s West End, said he is ready to go to jail in defiance of any further postponement of reopening theaters, which have been closed or at reduced capacity for 15 months.

“We are going to open, come hell or high water,” he told the Telegraph. “We will say ‘come to the theater and arrest us.’”

“I’ve seen the science from the tests, don’t ask me how,” he said, Variety reported. “They all prove that theaters are completely safe, the virus is not carried there. If the government ignore their own science, we have the mother of all legal cases against them. If ‘Cinderella’ couldn’t open, we’d go, ‘Look, either we go to law about it or you’ll have to compensate us.’”

Robert Jenrick, the U.K.’s secretary of state for housing, communities, and local government, said Wednesday, “We all have to abide by the rules,” when asked if Mr. Lloyd Webber should be arrested if he reopens theaters prematurely, the BBC reported.

“We want to get those theaters open so great new productions like ‘Cinderella’ can open,” Mr. Jenrick said. “But you have just got a few more days to wait until the judgment that the prime minister is going to make on the basis of the data.”

Mr. Lloyd Webber has spoken out against the U.K.’s coronavirus-related restrictions in the past. In August, he said he volunteered for a coronavirus vaccine trial in an effort to get theaters reopened.

“I’ll do anything to prove that theatres can re-open safely,” he tweeted at the time.

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