There are many ways to change the world. You could, say, create a dance musical about cats. You could also participate in a drug trial for the vaccine for COVID-19. Andrew Lloyd Webber is the rare person to EGOT and also do those two things (an EGOTCATSCOVID-19, if you will). Plus, there’s just the existence of Starlight Express, which is a whole can of worms on roller skates we can’t get into at the moment. Anyway, Webber announced on Twitter today that he is participating in the drug trial for Oxford University’s novel coronavirus vaccine, writing that “I’ll do anything to prove that theatres can re-open safely.”
The announcement is certainly a hard pivot for Webber from dragging the recent Cats adaptation, but it’s in keeping with Webber’s campaign to experiment with various ways to reopen London theaters in the midst of the pandemic. In July, Webber hosted theater workers for an experimental, socially distanced trial event at his theater the Palladium, while also insisting that it would be financially impossible for theaters to survive without operating near full capacity. After a coordinated campaign from celebrities and arts workers, the British government this month issued a $2 billion bailout for arts funding, and some London theaters are experimenting with ways to open this fall in some form, though most have pledged not to return till 2021. In late July, producer Cameron Mackintosh announced that London’s Phantom of the Opera, a flagship Webber production, had to “permanently shut down,” though Webber insisted that it would “reopen as soon as is possible” (Webber’s people have insisted the theater is going through repairs). Somehow, Webber also found the time to develop his modern Cinderella musical, with plans to premiere that next spring. Presumably, having a vaccine by then would make that whole timeline much easier.
Update, August 13: Andrew Lloyd Webber also shared this photo of himself participating in the trial with his mask on. He supports you, for he loves you Understands you, is one of you! Etc.
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