‘Theatre is on its knees’: Lloyd Webber takes aim at COVID rules after one case shuts down show
Andrew Lloyd Webber has taken another swipe at the government after his new show Cinderella was forced to close down due to a coronavirus case.
On Monday afternoon, the impresario announced that the musical would not be going ahead with its “Freedom Day” show after a cast member caught COVID-19, forcing a number of the team to isolate as close contacts – despite them repeatedly testing negative.
Sky News understands the show will be postponed until at least next week.
“We can’t isolate every time somebody may or may not have it. It just simply doesn’t work,” he said.
“I say this from the heart, I am seeing the profession I have loved, I’m seeing musical theatre I think I had a small part in pioneering in this country at a time when frankly the British were not considered to be people who could do musicals.
“And I am just saying it with passion – please, please will this government for once listen to us.
“Listen. We do know what we’re doing, we do. Just listen and knock all these platitudes and endless, endless blunt instruments that don’t apply across the board.”
Clearly emotional, the peer added that he had “tried and I have tried and I have tried” to work with the government and prove theatres are safe.
After COVID-19 restrictions were extended in June, Lord Lloyd Webber rejected the government’s offer to be part of the Events Research Programme, which would have allowed him to open his preview shows at full capacity earlier than 19 July.
He also argued that his theatre has “100% fresh air” and the “best ventilation system you can find”, as well as warning of another “very, very major show” that will also be forced to cancel its opening.
“We can’t go on like this, theatre is now on its knees, there’s no way forward,” he said, adding that he feels Prime Minister Boris Johnson “doesn’t seem to grasp what we’re about in theatre”.
The musical theatre magnate says he is determined to open his new multi-million pound show in London, and says he has ignored calls from the industry to move it to Broadway instead.
“I do worry at the end of the day that the government doesn’t regard theatre as anything other than nice to have. I don’t think they have a clue of what the real economic value to the country theatre is, and indeed all forms of live entertainment,” he said.
He said that while Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden “does his best”, “I don’t think he’s really able to be that effective”.
Mr Dowden earlier said that he was “deeply disappointed” to hear of the show’s cancellation, adding he recognised the difficulties that self-isolation was having on the sector.
Equity, the actors’ union, has called for a change to self-isolation rules for the entertainment industry, warning that the current policy is having a “devastating” and costly impact.
Monday’s opening performance of Lord Lloyd Webber’s show appeared to be sold out, with proceeds going to the NHS and St John Ambulance.
Cinderella is a new musical which offers a twist to the traditional story, and features West End star Carrie Hope Fletcher in the titular role, who told fans she was “so, so sorry” about the closure.
Shows across England and the West End have begun to reopen, some at full capacity and some keeping COVID regulations in place, after legal restrictions were lifted across the country.
BBC defends ‘misjudged’ Saltburn BAFTA red carpet question to Andrew Scott
The BBC has apologised for a “misjudged” question to Andrew Scott in an awkward red carpet interview at the BAFTA film awards last week.
After chatting to Scott, 47, about his film All Of Us Strangers, BBC entertainment correspondent Colin Paterson moved onto the popularity of other Irish performers, including Saltburn star Keoghan.
Paterson asked: “Do you know Barry well?”
To which Scott replied: “I know Barry, yeah.”
Paterson then asked Scott: “Can I ask your reaction when you first saw the naked dance scene at the end of Saltburn?”
Deflecting the question Scott replied: “Oh gees, I won’t spoil it for anybody.”
Not letting it drop, Paterson persisted: “There is a lot of talk about the prosthetics… how well do you know him?” at which point Scott pulled a face and awkwardly walked away.
Paterson then asked: “Too much? Too much?”
The interview led to complaints, some of which expressed concern that the line of questioning was homophobic, due to Scott being a high-profile gay actor.
In response, the corporation issued a statement, which read: “Saltburn is a film which has had cultural impact, with Barry Keoghan’s scene at the end gaining a lot of attention in particular – something the actor has addressed himself.
“Our question to Andrew Scott was meant to be a light-hearted reflection of the discussion around the scene and was not intended to cause offence”.
The BBC said Saltburn director Emerald Fennell and singer Sophie Ellis-Bextor – whose song Murder on the Dancefloor features in the scene and who performed at the BAFTA ceremony – also faced the same line of questioning.
The statement added: “We do, however, accept that the specific question asked to Andrew Scott was misjudged.
“After speaking with Andrew on the carpet, our reporter acknowledged on air that his questioning may have gone too far and that he was sorry if this was the case.”
All Of Us Strangers received six BAFTA nominations, including outstanding British film, best supporting actor for Paul Mescal, best supporting actress for Claire Foy and best director for Andrew Haigh.
Despite a widely praised lead performance, Scott did not receive a nomination for best actor in a leading role. He did however, present the animated film award on the night alongside co-star Mescal.
Saltburn had five BAFTA nods including outstanding British film, best supporting actor for Jacob Elordi, best supporting actress for Rosamund Pike, and best actor in a leading role for Keoghan.
Both films left empty handed.
Scottish reporter Paterson, 50, first began reporting on The Big Breakfast, before writing for the Guardian and later presenting on Liquid News on BBC Three.
He has covered the BAFTAs, Oscars and Glastonbury Festival multiple times.
Ellie Goulding confirms split from husband Caspar Jopling
Ellie Goulding has announced that she has split from her husband Caspar Jopling.
They welcomed a son, Arthur, in 2021.
Posting a statement in an Instagram story, Goulding said she had been left with “no choice” but to publicly announce that they have been separated for “some time”.
The Hertfordshire-born singer wrote: “In light of recent stories, I feel I have been left with no choice but to let you all know that Caspar and I privately separated some time ago.
“We remain the closest of friends and have been successfully co-parenting with our son’s best interests at heart.
“We are committed to protecting our family privacy and thank people in advance for respecting our wishes – we won’t be commenting further.”
She also shared a story which Jopling had posted on his Instagram account, also confirming their separation.
It read: “Hi people – hope you’re having a good day.
“I feel (sadly) that I need to say something on mine and Ellie’s current relationship… that I hope more than anything will make any final tabloid speculation disappear.
“Ellie and I made the decision to separate some time ago.
“Our immediate family and close friends have known for some time – otherwise we chose to do what we could to keep this private.
“Ellie and I remain the closest of friends, most importantly ‘co-parents’ to the best kiddo in the world, Arthur.
“This is the last I want to say on this – and please ask that you respect mine and Ellie’s privacy. Thanks a lot. Caspar.”
Their glamorous wedding ceremony at York Minster in 2019, featured an impressive guest list ranging from pop stars to royalty.
Celebrities including Katy Perry, Orlando Bloom, James Blunt, Sienna Miller, Jimmy Carr and artist Tracey Emin were in attendance.
Princesses Eugenie and Beatrice were also guests along with their mother Sarah, Duchess of York and Eugenie’s husband Jack Brooksbank, who was one of the groomsmen.
The ceremony was followed by a lavish reception at Castle Howard, a stately home near Malton, North Yorkshire.
The couple first became an item in early 2017, getting engaged the following year.
Goulding had previously been in relationships with McFly star Dougie Poynter, radio presenter Greg James, DJ Skrillex and actor Jeremy Irvine, and is also rumoured to have dated singer Ed Sheeran.
She has had four chart-topping albums in the UK, including her most recent collection, Higher Than Heaven, released in 2023.
Goulding toured the UK and Europe late last year with songs from the new album.
Rod Stewart labels Vladimir Putin an ‘a******e’ and urges support for Ukraine ‘right to the end’
Sir Rod Stewart has lashed out at Vladimir Putin on the eve of the second anniversary of Russia’s war on Ukraine.
The music veteran branded the Russian president an “arsehole” in an interview with Sky News on Friday night.
And he said revealed his fears about the consequences of the US “pulling money away from Ukraine” as the conflict enters its third year.
“And we’ll have to join the army,” he added.
“We have to support Ukraine right to the end,” he continued, adding: “Peace in the Middle East as well.”
Sir Rod appeared on Sky News alongside friend and fellow musician, Jools Holland to discuss their new album, Swing Fever.
“We need joy, we live in very dark times,” he told Sky News.
Sir Rod described how the album “brought them together”, while pianist and composer Holland revealed how, when Sir Rod first called him to discuss the project, he believed it was a crank call.
Sir Rod is no stranger to speaking his mind.
In January last year, he called into Sky News to donate for medical scans after hearing NHS crisis stories.
He said it was ridiculous people had to wait long periods for essential treatment and called for a change in government.
Sir Rod said: “I personally have been a Tory for a long time but I think this government should stand down now and give the Labour Party a go, this is heartbreaking.
“In all my years in this country I’ve never seen it so bad… change the bloody government.”
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