‘Luvvie’ Andrew Lloyd Webber slammed for BBC interview: ‘Stunned by the sheer arrogance’

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Andrew Lloyd Webber joined Dan Walker and Louise Minchin on BBC Breakfast to discuss his plan to open shows in the West End in July. The composer admitted he would do “whatever it takes” to get theatres open and would consider ignoring coronavirus guidelines if he felt the arts were being unfairly treated compared to other industries such as hospitality. 

“Oh it’s fantastic to be back, you know we were all together in the Gillian Lynne theatre yesterday,” Andrew began. 

“All the technicians, the musicians coming in later in the week. The technicians were so excited they started to demonstrate the set to the performers.

“We are back doing theatre. We’ve got to get theatre open up and down the country, everywhere for all of the actors and musicians and technicians whose livelihood has been put on hold for a year.

“I’m determined that we open and we’re going to open Joseph and Phantom, and obviously Cinderella in July, whatever it takes, unless there’s some really good reason why not.”

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Louise asked: “Let’s talk about that date, you’ve got a date set, haven’t you? Why that date?”

“I think we were all very encouraged by the government’s qualified suggestion that we open June 21 without social distancing,” the composer replied. 

“Social distancing is impossible in a theatre with a large scale show and it’s horrible for the performers too.

“I decided at that point July looked a safer bet than to say we’re opening on June 21.”

“But we’ve just got to get open because we can’t go on if hospitality is going to be allowed to be open with people drinking alcohol, facing each other without face masks while they eat and table hopping no doubt,” he continued. 

“It just doesn’t make sense because we’ve got wonderfully ventilated buildings and we’ve just got to open. Everyone has got to get behind theatre and music around the country and let us get on with our jobs.”

“The government had laid out a roadmap for reopening event spaces like concert venues,” Dan said. “You say ‘whatever it takes’ but obviously if those plans change you’re going to have to abide by that, aren’t you?”

“I think there comes a time where we’ve got to be certain we’re on a level playing field,” the composer replied. 

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“If we find that restaurants or pubs which are not ventilated as well as we are, which is very likely and if we find that people are being allowed to do things in other spaces and we’re being singled out and being told that we can’t when we’ve taken every measure.

“I think at that point we have to challenge it and certainly I’m very prepared to. 

“But I do believe Oliver Dowden the culture secretly is doing his very best for live theatre so I’m hopeful that we won’t get to a point where we have to start looking at legal ways of making sure we can open. I just don’t want to do that.”

Many of those tuning in were furious to hear Andrew had held theatre rehearsals and promised to have theatres opened by July. 

One posted: “Andrew Lloyd Webber could be using his enormous wealth to pay his entire staff and actor rosters, rather than admitting to breaking the law and make promises he can’t keep.”

Another added: “Why should Theatre’s be a special case when Sport such as football are not allowed fans back in the stadiums and ALW talks about legal action to get his own way.”

“I don’t recall electing Andrew Lloyd Webber. The scale of a sense of entitlement in this interview nearly broke the TV screen,” a third posted. 

“I was stunned by the sheer arrogance & self-importance of @OfficialALW‘s responses. People are dying but big shows can’t do social distancing ‘cos it’s not nice for the performers! I’m guessing the £ he’s losing is his real motivation. #MeMeMeMeMe,” someone else shared.

BBC Breakfast airs on BBC One on weekdays at 6am. 

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