London’s West End theaters won’t house smash shows like Hamilton and The Phantom of the Opera until some point next year, producers announced this week.
Famed producer Cameron Mackintosh – who runs the Delfont Mackintosh Theatres group – revealed that the aforementioned shows as well as Mary Poppins and Les Miserables would return “as early as practical in 2021.”
The decision was a “heartbreaking” one for Mackintosh, according to the Associated Press. England’s theaters have been shutdown since March due to the coronavirus pandemic and are taking a monumental hit rather than generating billions into the British economy, as much of the country’s arts and music industries do.
Mackintosh slammed the government for providing stage producers ”no tangible practical support beyond offers to go into debt,” along with its hesitancy to revise current social distancing rules. He added that the government’s “inability to say when the impossible constraints of social distancing will be lifted makes it equally impossible for us to properly plan for whatever the new future is.”
Nearly 100 theater artists – including the likes of James McAvoy and Emmy winner Phoebe Waller-Bridge – have also pleaded with the British government to help their industry in a letter detailing theaters’ current hardships.
“The pandemic has brought theater to its knees,” reads the letter. “Theaters do not have the money to operate viably with physical distancing. It is difficult to see venues opening before the end of the year.”
The status of Mackintosh’s West End shows could foreshadow the future for Broadway productions. All shows on the Great White Way will remain shuttered through Labor Day weekend, though it is unclear if an official reopening will occur in the fall. Mackintosh had previously claimed that he does not believe Broadway shows will resume operations until 2021.