'Phantom Of The Opera' to close permanently in West End after 34 years due to coronavirus

Albertina Lloyd
·Entertainment reporter, Yahoo UK
·3 min read
Un anuncio del musical de Broadway "The Phantom of the Opera" ("El fantasma de la ópera") en el Majestic Theatre, en una calle casi desierta de Nueva York, el jueves 12 de marzo del 2020 tras el cierre de los teatros debido al coronavirus. (AP Foto/Kathy Willens)
The Phantom Of The Opera is closing in London's West End after 34 years. (AP)

The Phantom of the Opera has been forced to close in the West End for good due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Andrew Lloyd Webber show was London’s second-longest-running musical, but due to the financial impacts of ongoing COVID-19 restrictions on theatres it has been forced to give up the ghost after 34 years.

Producer Cameron Mackintosh wrote in the Evening Standard: “Andrew and I have had to sadly permanently shut down our London and UK touring productions of The Phantom of the Opera.”

The show – which tells the story of a hideously disfigured, masked musician living beneath the Paris Opera House – has been running at Her Majesty's Theatre on London’s Haymarket since its debut in 1986.

Read more: Lloyd Webber was not happy with additions to James Corden's song in Cats

Mackintosh said he is “determined to bring it back to London in the future”.

The longest-running musical in London’s West End is Les Misérables, another of Mackintosh’s productions, which opened in 1980.

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 10:  Sir Cameron Mackintosh (L) and Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber speak onstage at "The Phantom Of The Opera" 30th anniversary charity gala performance in aid of The Music in Secondary Schools Trust at Her Majesty's Theatre on October 10, 2016 in London, England.  (Photo by David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images)
Sir Cameron Mackintosh and Baron Andrew Lloyd Webber opened 'Phantom of the Opera' together in 1986. (Getty Images)

The successful theatre producer – whose shows include recent hit Hamilton – has condemned the government’s plans to allow indoor theatres to reopen only with social distancing measures in place.

Mackintosh said it was a “disaster” for the industry and that the promise of a £1.57bn rescue fund for the arts “still hasn’t materialised”.

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He went on: “But even without [social distancing], we will need at least four months to remount our productions, rebuild our advance bookings and public confidence and bring our artists back to performance pitch.”

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 02:  (EMBARGOED FOR PUBLICATION IN UK TABLOID NEWSPAPERS UNTIL 48 HOURS AFTER CREATE DATE AND TIME. MANDATORY CREDIT PHOTO BY DAVE M. BENETT/GETTY IMAGES REQUIRED) (L to R) Cast members Wynne Evans, Hadley Fraser, Ramin Karimloo, Sierra Boggess, Barry James and Gareth Snook bow on stage during the 25th Anniversary performance of Andrew Lloyd Webber's "The Phantom Of The Opera" presented by Cameron Mackintosh at the Royal Albert Hall on October 2, 2011 in London, England.  (Photo by Dave M. Benett/Getty Images)
'The Phantom Of The Opera' was London's second-longest-running musical. (Getty Images)

Last week Baron Lloyd-Webber staged a socially distanced performance by Beverley Knight at the London Palladium, overseen by Public Health England.

Read more: Director Tom Hooper changed Cats CGI after backlash

Guests were seated apart, with whole rows left empty and the audience were asked to wear face masks.

Lloyd Webber called it a “sad sight” and admitted that social distancing at indoor performances is unlikely to work.

The national advisory body for theatres has warned that box office revenue is down by more than £300m since the start of lockdown, threatening dozens of theatres with closure.

SANTA MONICA, CALIFORNIA - JANUARY 12: Andrew Scott accepts the Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series award for 'Fleabag' onstage during the 25th Annual Critics' Choice Awards at Barker Hangar on January 12, 2020 in Santa Monica, California. (Photo by Amy Sussman/Getty Images)
Andrew Scott is to perform to an empty theatre at the Old Vic for a new live streaming show. (Getty Images)

Lloyd Webber's Really Useful Group said it is losing up to £6m a week in box office sales, while Shakespeare's Globe and the Old Vic warned their financial losses could mean they would be forced to close down permanently.

This week will see Sherlock and Fleabag star Andrew Scott leading new play Three Kings at London’s Old Vic theatre – performing to an empty audience. Tickets are available for viewers to watch the live stream of the show from home.