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Andrew Lloyd Webber Plans London Palladium Test In July To Prove Theatres Can Reopen

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Andrew Lloyd Webber Plans London Palladium Test In July To Prove Theatres Can Reopen

Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme this morning (19 June), composer Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber announced that he's going to run a reopening test at the London Palladium in July, inspired by the success of an ongoing production of The Phantom of the Opera in South Korea.

Lloyd Webber noted that "the local producers have done the extraordinary work there", and that the Phantom production has been open for two and a half months. "The key thing is that they have is incredibly good hygiene in every single possible way, both backstage for the cast and crew and orchestra, but also for people in the front of the house. The whole point is to make people feel as safe and secure as they possibly can - for example, they have thermal imaging cameras at the stage door and as you come into the theatre that can identify if people have a temperature extremely quickly."

Lloyd Webber explained that he's ordered similar equipment for his "little test" at the London Palladium, including hygienic silver ion door handles - "apparently these are completely effective against pathogens like coronavirus. Everybody going into the theatre is fobbed with the antiviral chemical, and the theatre itself is fobbed after every performance. There's no social distancing because it's impossible in the theatre."

Lloyd Webber hopes to "demonstrate to the Government what has happened in Korea at the London Palladium in the first week of July. We've just had the final bits of equipment delivered into England. We hope to have them in the theatre next Monday. Then we're going to do a series of tests there to see whether it's going to work.

"The reason we've chosen the London Palladium is it's a very big theatre - it's just under 2,300 seats. It's the biggest theatre we have, and therefore the most problematic. We want to demonstrate there that this can work. All one can do is try to be positive - we in theatre must be positive and demonstrate that we can open."

Lloyd Webber noted that he's had "a couple of phone calls" with Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden, although he didn't sound convinced by the Government's response. "I would love to say that the Government understood a little more. I don't know what's going to be in the report on theatre that's coming out on Monday. But I sincerely hope it doesn't contain some of the things I've seen in their advice - one of which was a brilliant one for musicals that you're not allowed to sing!"

On a personal note, Lloyd Webber added: "I've been over 50 years in the theatre, it's my life, it's my blood - it's been absolutely awful to see everything that I've loved in my life gone. And the theatres are my way of putting something back into the business that's been so good to me. I want to prove they can be open."

Listen to the whole interview here


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