West End show producers, including the new musical A Christmas Carol, were desperate today as theaters faced financial disaster following the decision to move London to Stage Three.
The show at the Dominion Theater had its official opening night yesterday, just a day before it closed after today's performance. Amanda Holden attended today's matinee with her eight-year-old daughter Hollie.
A Christmas story was produced by Gary England with Music Director Freddie Tapner for the London Musical Theater Orchestra and has been previewed since December 7th. The show should run until January 2nd.
Mr England hadn't expected to make a profit on the show but wanted to help people in the industry, from actors to technical crews and stage doorkeepers to house staff, get back to work.
But there will only be two more shows today at 3pm and 7.30pm – starring Brian Conley playing Ebenezer Scrooge and saying last night, “We opened tonight. We close tomorrow. What's this all about? & # 39;
The landmarked Dominion, which could seat 1,000 for the show, half its normal capacity, is owned by the New York-based Nederlander Organization, which also includes the Aldwych and Adelphi theaters in London.
The 51-year-old England said it was a "Herculean task" to get the show going and it was an "extremely risky business but ultimately it came from the heart," adding that he was a "commercial one." Producer "and not funded by the Arts Council.
On a podcast called Passions last Wednesday, Mr. England added, "It is not just our money that is invested, but also the money of our investors and there is obviously a great sense of responsibility that goes with it."
Basingstoke-based Mr. England took over the project after meeting Mr. Tapner in February 2019 and originally wanted to perform at the London Coliseum with the English National Opera from November 2020.
That plan was canceled because it wasn't commercially viable – and it moved it to the Dominion instead after the venue became available as the return of the current show, The Prince of Egypt was delayed until 2021.
Mr England also said that there has been "a great business mindset about mitigating risks and costs because you can't get insurance for Covid in the theater right now" and said, "We don't have a bottomless pot of cash."
He started a company called "Three Ghosts Ltd" with Mr. Tapner in October, but no accounts have been filed. He said that you "aren't thinking of making money," but that he was dying to "help actors, technical staff, stage doormen, front door staff, anyone in the industry – we just wanted to." back to work & # 39 ;.
Mr England, who is married and originally from Hinckley, Leicestershire, has also worked as the Hospitality Director of Ascot Racecourse, Commercial Director of the English National Opera, and Sales Director at the Barbican Center.
At the start of the second ban in November, Mr England said the team was considering canceling the entire show and shaving 75 percent on its capital, "but it felt premature and it felt wrong to cancel at this point".
The box office in the West End was estimated at £ 75 million last December, and theater owners had reported tremendous demand for tickets in the past few days. The Nimax venues hosted 42 performances of 12 shows in six theaters over the past week.
The shows are now on hold, but tickets for some – including A Christmas Carol – are still on sale starting Wednesday next week, when the next stage review is expected, in the faint hope that London will be on the day of the five-day Christmas bubbles start.
Many top shows in the West End like The Lion King and Hamilton cost more than £ 400,000 a week, and city brokers Panmure Gordon estimate that London companies will lose £ 700 million in Tier Three before Christmas.
A review in What & # 39; s On Stage said that closing theaters was a "very Scrooge-like gesture on the part of a government that has yet to prove it loves the arts," while London Theater Direct told the show have been certified as "a must". .
Also on the show, which ranged from £ 43.75 to £ 72.50 for today's matinee, were singer Matt Willis, EastEnders actress Jacqueline Jossa, X Factor star Lucie Jones and Sandra Marvin from Emmerdale to see.
Stars attending the UK premiere at the Dominion last night included Jessica Plummer from I'm A Celebrity, comedian Keith Lemon, stylist Gok Wan and TV host Emma Willis, who is also the wife of Matt Willis is.
Other West End shows that have now been canceled include: Everyone's Talking About Jamie (Apollo Theater), The Elf Who Was Afraid of Christmas (Charing Cross Theater), The Play That Goes Wrong (Duchess Theater), Potted Panto ( Garrick Theater), Pantoland (London Palladium), Das Comeback (Noel Coward Theater), Mischief Movie Night (Vaudeville Theater) and Les Miserables: The All-Star Concert (Sondheim Theater).
The update comes a day after the government confirmed that London will move into stage three starting tomorrow. Restaurants, pubs and other leisure and dining establishments must close their doors to customers.
Theater producer Gary England hadn't counted on making a profit on the show but instead wanted to help people in the industry, from actors to technical crews and stage doorkeepers to house staff, get back to work.
Amanda Holden arrives with her daughter Hollie for the matinee show at the Dominion Theater this afternoon
Families are waiting for the final A Christmas Carol matinee today at the Dominion Theater in London's West End
I & # 39; m A Celebrity's Jessica Plummer (left) and comedian Keith Lemon (right) were at London's Dominion Theater last night
A Christmas story has been on stage at the London Palladium since December 7th, but had its official opening night yesterday
Hand sanitizer and temperature controls were held at the Dominion Theater in London last night before A Christmas Carol
Emma Willis (left), whose husband Matt is on the show, and Gok Wan (right) attend the opening night in London yesterday
Brian Conley, who plays Ebenezer Scrooge, said last night, “We opened tonight. We close tomorrow. What's this all about? & # 39;
The British Beer & Pub Association said in London alone, restrictions would force 1,250 pubs that remained open in Tier 2 to close, putting nearly 8,000 more jobs at risk. Under the new restrictions, which also apply to parts of Essex and Hertfordshire, entertainment venues such as concert halls, cinemas and museums must also be closed.
The New West End Company, which represents local businesses, said it could not yet calculate the total losses caused by the "hammer blow" but pointed out that 10 percent of all Londoners work in the West End.
The Dominion Theater is owned by the Nederlander Theaters, a division of the New York-based Nederlander Organization, of which James L. Nederlander (above) is president.
Visitor numbers in Central London have been significantly weaker this year due to travel restrictions, the forced closings of shops and venues and guidance for workers to stay at home. The West End landlord, Shaftesbury, announced today a £ 699 million annual loss following the pandemic that caused property values to plummet.
Jon Ranger, a piano player on A Christmas Carol, said there would be no "exit to theater" unless the government changes its policies on live entertainment.
He felt "a combination of anger, frustration, a little bit of hopelessness" and said, "We have fought so hard as an industry to prove we can safely open and we did everything that was asked of us, but that do not do it." seem to be enough. & # 39;
Mr. Ranger said, “People's mental health really matters and the reaction we got from the audience in the previews and last night – last night was the best audience reaction I ever had to a show I ever got because people need this, they need something to enjoy in their life, and they need something to live for. & # 39;
Mr Ranger said that given the extensive planning required to run a show, the theaters need to be opened with greater certainty so as not to be notified 48 hours in advance that they are due to close again.
He added, "If the government maintains this stance and direction, I don't see a viable way out for the theaters in the New Year because it's just not a business model that can work that way."
The show was written by famous Disney composer Alan Menken, Lynn Ahrens, and Mike Ockrent and premiered at New York's Paramount Theater in 1994 before running at Madison Square Garden for more than a decade.
Theater-goers line up outside London's Palladium in the West End today to see Pantoland's matinee performance
People stand in front of the London Palladium this afternoon for Pantoland's penultimate show before the theaters close
People line up for the final pantoland matinee at the London Palladium today before Tier Three kicks off
People are waiting to come to the London Palladium today to see Pantoland at Andrew Lloyd Webber's theater
Andrew Lloyd Webber (left), who owns the London Palladium, said it was "arbitrary and unfair" to ban performances while shopping was still allowed, while Cameron Mackintosh (right) said forcing the venues to "panic " close.
Theater producer Nica Burns is a co-owner of the Nimax Theaters group, which has put on 12 shows in six theaters over the past week
It comes when Andrew Lloyd Webber said it was "arbitrary and unfair" to ban performances while shopping was still allowed, while Cameron Mackintosh said it was devastating and "panicked" to force venues to close.
Top West End landlord Shaftesbury plunges to £ 700m as virus hits property valuations
The West End landlord, Shaftesbury, has plummeted to an annual loss of £ 699million in rental income from the pandemic and has resulted in a decline in property values.
Shares in the company, whose properties include London's Carnaby Street, Chinatown and Seven Dials, fell after hitting a pre-tax loss in the twelve months to September after making £ 26 million last year.
The company said the loss was due to depreciation in property, which is highly exposed to the retail and hospitality sectors hard hit by the pandemic.
It said £ 698.5 million had been wiped off the value of his estate and its value had fallen 18.3 percent to £ 3.1 billion by September. Shaftesbury said rental income fell 24.2 percent to £ 74.3 million during the period.
The group's chairman, Brian Bickell, said: “Rarely in history has the world seen such a widespread disruption of normal life patterns. Only now are we seeing the first positive signs that conditions will improve in the coming year.
& # 39; The pandemic had a significant impact on our performance, particularly in the second half of the financial year. It has taken the footprint and trade off our hospitality and retail users, resulting in lower rental income, more vacancy, lower demand for users and a decline in property reviews. Our main priority was and is to support our occupiers during this time of disruption. & # 39;
The company's shares fell 3.7 percent to 528.5 pence in early trading today.
Jon Morgan of the Theaters Trust said, “It's a disaster for London's theaters. The theaters have worked incredibly hard to create safe environments for audiences and will now suffer enormous financial losses through no fault of their own. You did this at great risk as it is currently impossible to get production insurance. & # 39;
He said the tier system meant "more uncertainty and risk for months" and urged the government to put in place an insurance system to support the industry.
Tier Two restrictions had allowed socially distant performances and museums to welcome visitors.
Pantoland in the London Palladium, which opened on Saturday with Julian Clary and Elaine Paige, is affected by Pantoland in the London Palladium, among other things.
Sir Cameron said: “The sudden decision to immediately move London to the third stage and close the West End is devastating to both the theater and the economy.
“Worse, it smells like panic and makes all of our considerable and costly efforts to ensure the safety of performers and audiences, widely acclaimed by health officials, worthless. It breaks any sense of trust between us as an industry and the government departments we have tried to develop a relationship with.
“The commercial theater has received virtually no support from the Treasury, apart from the offer of rather expensive loans, which, unlike the subsidized theater, we asked for personal guarantees for repayment. Many of us do not want to go into debt to pay for losses through dictation that is completely beyond our control. & # 39;
Lord Lloyd Webber said: “The theaters have worked tirelessly to make themselves as safe as possible.
"It seems arbitrary and unfair that people can rush uncontrollably into overcrowded shops, but an orderly, socially distant theater visit is forbidden."
The Sunday Times Rich List's analysis in May found that Lord Lloyd Webber would take a £ 20 million slap on his fortune due to the coronavirus pandemic, although that number is likely to have increased since then. His calculated net worth is said to be £ 800 million.
Theater producer Sonia Friedman said: “Entering the third stage in London is another blow to British theater – one that after a brutal year it simply cannot afford and that both could and should have avoided.
“It feels like a final straw: proof that this government does not understand the theater and the existential crisis it is facing. His nearsightedness is starting to look like serial mismanagement. & # 39;
Michael Harrison, director of Pantoland pantomime, which opened at the London Palladium on Saturday, said he was "deeply concerned" about the financial impact of tier three restrictions on the West End.
A Christmas story that should run until January 2nd stars entertainer Brian Conley, busted singer Matt Willis, EastEnders actress Jacqueline Jossa, X-Factor star Lucie Jones and Sandra Marvin from Emmerdale
The cast for A Christmas Carol at the Dominion Theater includes (back row, left to right) Sandra Marvin as Mrs. Fezziwig, Matt Jay-Willis as Bob Cratchit, Brian Conley as Ebenezer Scrooge and Lucie Jones as The Ghost of Christmas Past with (seated , from left to right) Jacqueline Jossa as the spirit of the Christmas future and Cedric Neal as the spirit of the Christmas present
The producers posted a message online yesterday that the performances will still take place today at 3 p.m. and 7.3 p.m.
People were sitting outside a pub in the West End of London last night after it was announced that the capital would enter the third stage
He added, "While the safety and health of our visitors, staff and artists is of the utmost importance, the government's yo-yo approach to advice is frankly appalling."
Last pints before Christmas! London pubs open their doors from 9am and sell 99p beer before the capital plunges into Tier 3. Landlords warn 160,000 jobs are at risk and the sector will lose £ 2.7 billion
Londoners sat down before Christmas to enjoy their last few bars. Industry experts warn that more than 160,000 jobs in the hotel industry have been jeopardized by the move to the third tier.
London and parts of Essex and Hertfordshire will be placed under Tier 3 curbs starting tonight.
Drinkers today in a Wetherspoons pub in South West London
But hospitality chiefs slammed the "catastrophic" decision to move London and parts of its home countries into the higher range of restrictions.
According to the new rules, only companies that offer take-away and delivery can remain open.
The move will wipe £ 2.7 billion off the London hotel industry as pubs, bars and restaurants close during what is usually the busiest trading hour in the last two weeks of the year. They called for an urgent support package for the hospitality sector to help businesses survive.
It came when Londoners started drinking early in pubs across the capital before the city dips into Tier 3 tonight. Some businesses in town opened their doors this morning from 9 a.m., and Wetherspoons was offering pints for just 99p to get rid of inventory within hours of the closure.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge went pantomime with their three children last week.
Minister of Culture Oliver Dowden was also present. Regarding Mr. Dowden's visit, Mr. Harrison said he was "thrilled to see him cry with laughter".
He added, "It's just a shame my entire cast and company are crying now because the government decided 12 days ago to add London to Stage Two. They all encouraged us to continue our productions just to realize that this was indeed a mistake. " .
Miss Paige tweeted: & # 39; Oliver Dowden (the Minister of Culture) saw it for himself. And yet tubes and flights are still allowed? These rules are illogical. The audience reaction shows how desperate they are after two hours of escaping. If it's that awful – cancel Christmas! & # 39;
Playwright James Graham said the theater industry was "decimated" before the venues closed.
Entertainment options in the capital and parts of Essex and Hertfordshire will greet visitors for the last time today before new Tier 3 restrictions go into effect.
Graham, who wrote Ink, This House and The Vote as well as the TV dramas Quiz and Brexit, described the move as "sad".
He tweeted: “The world's largest concentration of theaters could open last week only to close tonight.
& # 39; The hope was to revive a decimated sector and tell stories for Christmas. Thousands spent keeping Covid safe. So sorry. So sad. & # 39;
Julian Bird, executive director of the Society of London Theater and the UK Theater, the affiliates looking to promote the sector, also said the announcement was bad news for the industry.
"In the past few days, the venues have reopened with a high level of Covid security and reopened an enthusiastic, socially distant audience," he said.
“Theaters across London will now be forced to postpone or cancel scheduled performances, causing catastrophic financial difficulties for venues, producers and thousands of industrial workers – especially the freelancers who make up 70 percent of the theater workforce.
"We urge the government to recognize the enormous burden on the sector and to consider swift compensation for protecting theaters and their staff over Christmas in all regions of the country under Tier 3 restrictions."
The Creative Industries Federation said the third stage announcement was "devastating news" for London's creative sector.
A tweet from the trade organization said: “Devastating news for the London creative sector of £ 58 billion, especially for the many who will experience a total loss of income as a result of today's announcement of the third stage.
"For all parts of the UK facing constraints, greater support including insurance for those planning future performances and events is needed."
The New West End Company, which represents businesses in the area, said it couldn't yet calculate the total losses for businesses caused by Tier 3, but pointed out that 10 percent of all Londoners work in the West End.
Jace Tyrrell, General Manager of the New West End Company, said, “We all know that the safety of the public is of the utmost importance and steps must be taken to ensure the infection rate stays low, but these stop-start measures worsen already catastrophic situation.
“No matter how well wired, yesterday's announcement is a hammer blow for restaurants and hotels in the West End. The recommendation against travel will put pressure on retailers who have invested millions in improved security measures and staff training to support retailers.
& # 39; We urge the government to provide vital financial support to compensate these viable businesses. For all of those Londoners trapped in stage three, our message is that the West End remains safe and open to you. So come and support these retail stores and help protect local jobs. & # 39;
The government is currently distributing its £ 1.57 billion Culture Restoration Fund to the arts sector.
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