The government has advised theaters to ban singing when musicals return to the West End, according to Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber.
Lord Webber has revealed his intention to test the hygiene technologies needed to bring back the London Palladium stage productions, which will be presented in the first week of July this morning.
The 72-year-old composer said he had spoken to the government about reopening theaters with health procedures in place to reduce the spread of the coronavirus.
But he revealed that he was not impressed with some of the security arrangements envisaged by the officials, including the ban on singing.
Government advised theaters to ban singing when musicals return to London’s West End, says Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber
The ghost of Lord Webber’s opera currently presented in Seoul, South Korea as part of its world tour
Lord Webber said: “I have had a few phone calls with Oliver Dowden about this, the Secretary of Culture. I would love to say that they understand it a little more.
“I saw a report – I don’t know what’s going to happen in the [final] report coming out on a Monday, but I sincerely hope it contains some of the things I saw in their tips.
“One of them is brilliant for musicals, that you are not allowed to sing.
A representative for Lord Webber told MailOnline that the government advice he was referring to applied specifically to singing on stage.
Experts warn that singing is especially dangerous for spreading the coronavirus
Lothar Wieler, director of the German RKI Institute for Disease, explains that droplets can “fly particularly far” when they sing.
Several German states have banned choir singing in religious services, even though shops and restaurants have reopened.
Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today program, Lord Webber said it has already been proven that theaters can reopen safely in South Korea.
Woman walks past disinfectant before entering theater for Phantom of the Opera in Seoul, South Korea, yesterday
The Phantom of the Opera operated in Seoul with strict hygiene practices in place.
Considered the only large-scale English-language production in the world, the show’s world tour drew large audiences in the capital’s 1,600-seat theater.
The show had a mandatory three weak break in April after a staff Covid-19 epidemic, but has since run smoothly.
Rebecca Kane Burton, CEO of LW Theaters, explained how the system works in an interview with Stage newspaper: “There is an infrared camera at the door of the stage, your temperature is taken from a distance when you enter, and a large and large dashboard flashes [to indicate] whether you can come into the building or not.
“As soon as he does, the airlock is released, the door opens and you enter. “
Although he cannot distance himself socially in a theater, Lord Webber said the show proves that you can do enough to protect the health of viewers and actors.
“What I hope to do is be able to demonstrate to the government what happened in Korea at the London Palladium, I hope in the first week of July,” said Lord Webber.
“The bottom line is to have incredibly good hygiene in every way possible. Behind the scenes and in front of the orchestra.
“The goal is to make people feel as safe as they can.
Music giants Les Misérables, Mary Poppins and Hamilton will not return to the West End this year
“We are going to do a whole series of tests to see if it will work or not.
“I really believe that we in the theater have to be positive and use everything we can to show that we can open up. If it failed, we at least tried.
“We live in hope, but all you can do is try to demonstrate and stay positive. I want to prove that they can reopen.
Earlier this week, producer Sir Cameron Mackintosh criticized the government’s current position to ban the reopening of cinemas in the West End until next year.
Sir Cameron Mackintosh, producer of Les Miserables staging, urged government to “take action” on ongoing battle against coronaviruses
Sir Cameron said: “Despite the fact that the government has responded to the desperate calls of all actors in the theater industry, so far there has been no concrete support beyond the offers of go into debt, which I don’t want to do.
“Their inability to say when the impossible constraints of social isolation will be lifted also prevents us from planning properly for the new future.
“It forced me to take drastic measures to ensure that I had the resources necessary for the survival of my business and to allow my shows and theaters to reopen next year when we were allowed to. “
PHOEBE WALLER-BRIDGE LEADS TO CALL GOV TO SAVE THE ARTS INDUSTRY
The country’s best performers, playwrights and producers have urged the government to help save the arts sector.
Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Sir Tom Stoppard, Juliet Stevenson and James McAvoy are among the 100 names supporting a letter to Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak calling for government investment.
Published on Wednesday, the letter warns that British theater is on the brink of ruin and has been brought to its knees by the coronavirus pandemic.
The letter is also addressed to the Secretary of Culture, Oliver Dowden, who said he spoke to Lord Lloyd-Webber about these problems.
Dowden said it would be “exceptionally difficult” for theaters to reopen due to social distancing rules.
But he added that the government will work with industry experts to develop a “road map” to “allow the shows.”
This comes from a report by Oxford Economics which predicts that the virus would cause a “cultural disaster” with more than 400,000 job losses and a loss of £ 74 billion in earnings in the arts industry.
Fleabag designer Phoebe Waller-Bridge highlighted the art sector crisis