Since restrictions were loosened earlier in the year, we’ve been lucky enough to have one of London’s finest offerings back: live theatre at the iconic West End. It hasn’t all been without hitches, but after a period with nothing in the live arena, its been wonderful to see its return.
However, an Omicron-shaped issue has now arisen; sweeping through the capital and leading to the cancellation of almost half the shows in the final weekend before Christmas Day, a crucial period in the West End’s calendar.
Out of 46 full members of the Society of London Theatre that had shows scheduled, 22 of them were forced to halt their performances due to positive Covid cases.
Some mammoth spectacles were included, including performances of Hamilton, Wicked, Cinderella, The Lion King, Cabaret, Matilda, and Come From Away.
Speaking to BBC News, producer Sir Cameron Mackintosh said: “It’s literally day-to-day. We spend all morning trying to work out if we can do the show or not.
“The important thing is, when we do it, it is safe, and the public have been remarkable in that they are, in our experience, turning up mostly to the shows.”
He added that it was “hugely disruptive” and left the industry in a “dreadful state”. Mackintosh, who has eight West End productions that include Hamilton, Les Miserables and Mamma Mia! stated that it would be a “terrible blow” if theatres had to close down again, whether it was “by the government or by stealth”, and urged the governement to step up to provide support for the hospitality and theatre industries.
Bookings at theatres for early next year are said to be lower than expected across the industry.
As of now, theatres do remain open , but the government are said to be considering new measures that would restrict indoor activities. Nothing has yet been decided, but this is a developing story, and we’ll keep you up to date at Secret London.