Andrew Lloyd Webber is in line for government help to put on his new show despite the lockdown delay – with a pledge from Boris Johnson himself.
The musicals millionaire – who was a Tory peer until he quit the Lords in 2017 – had warned he was prepared to be arrested rather than scupper Cinderella’s opening on the West End.
The show begins previews on June 25 followed by an official opening on July 14, both of which are before the new ‘Freedom Day’ of July 19.
Current rules mean theatre performances in England are allowed to go ahead but only at severely reduced capacity.
But the Prime Minister personally promised to help on Monday night, telling the nation he had “colossal admiration” for the Cats impresario.
Mr Johnson told a No10 press conference: “Actually, on Cinderella and Lord Lloyd-Webber’s latest production, I think we’re in talks with him to try to make it work and we’ll do whatever we can to be helpful.”
It’s understood the show is in talks to take part in an Events Research Pilot, where it will be allowed a larger audience to study whether Covid transmission can be prevented.
A government source told the Mirror: “It’s not all firmed up or 100% ‘go’, but we are pretty close and I would be very surprised if it didn’t go ahead.”
Asked about what help Cinderella would get, Boris Johnson’s spokesman replied: “We’re going to be setting out the details of the next stage of the events research programme in due course.”
The help came as small venues blasted the Prime Minister for refusing to extend any economic support including the furlough scheme.
Asked if the Prime Minister was showing favouritism to a high-profile former peer, the PM’s spokesman said: “No, absolutely not.
“The aim of the events pilot is to bring together a variety of different settings. That will cover large, medium and small venues, theatres but other settings [as well].”
A new round of pilot events is expected to be published as soon as this week after a blanket decision on how to run big events in future was delayed.
Pilots are expected to include four Euro 2020 matches at 50% capacity – the final match between the top 16, both semi-finals and the final at Wembley on July 11.
They are also expected to include a 100% capacity crowd on centre court at Wimbledon for the men’s and women’s finals.
Attendees will be expected to show they have either taken a rapid Covid test, or had a second vaccine dose at least two weeks previously.
After the PM’s comments, Lord Lloyd-Webber said was “pleased and surprised” but needs to know more about the scheme.
In a statement on Monday night, he said: “My goal is, and will always be, to fight for the full and safe reopening of theatre and live music venues up and down the country.
“I was pleased and surprised to hear the Prime Minister mention Cinderella as part of his announcement today, but I can’t comment further on the proposed pilot until I know more about the scheme.”
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