Andrew Lloyd Webber has escalated his ongoing fight with the British government over its restrictions on reopening theaters. Today, Webber suddenly announced that he would close his new musical version of Cinderella, which was supposed to open on July 20, due to what he termed the “blunt instrument that is the Government’s isolation guidance.” Cinderella had previously started performances on June 25 at 50 percent capacity, and had canceled two shows on July 17 due to a positive COVID-19 test of someone who “has a cameo role in the show.” Today it was set to return to performances, on what Webber refers to as “freedom day,” when full-capacity performances are able to resume in London.
While Webber refers to today as Cinderella’s “closure day” in his post, it isn’t clear whether Cinderella may eventually return to performances. In an Instagram Story, Carrie Hope Fletcher, who plays the title role, said that “Belleville will opens its gates eventually … just not today,” while Webber’s representatives told WhatsOnStage that “It’s hard to see a route forward under the current rules, but we will do everything we can to come back as soon as possible!” Either way, this announcement is a sudden about-face for Webber, who once promised that he would be willing to get arrested to open Cinderella. Maybe abruptly shutting down the show is, in turn, a blunt-force effort to get the government to loosen its pandemic restrictions further, or maybe Webber decided Cinderella just wasn’t worth fighting for, and turned out to be a pumpkin all along.