Beverley Knight concert praised by Andrew Lloyd Webber

A Beverley Knight concert proved that theatres are safe to reopen again, according to Andrew Lloyd Webber.

Beverley Knight during a pilot performance at the London Palladium, which had strict social distancing measures in place
Beverley Knight during a pilot performance at the London Palladium, which had strict social distancing measures in place

Lloyd Webber has been trialling measures at the London Palladium that could allow the theatre business to return after a production of Phantom Of The Opera was able to continue in South Korea with strict hygiene measures and no social distancing.

The Wolverhampton-born soul singer performed at the Palladium in July, with a reduced audience who were required to wear masks and were banned from singing along.

He told the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee that many lessons had been learned from the performance from the singer, a former pupil at Highfields School, who gave her time for free.

Sanitising measures were also used to enable the concert to go ahead.

Lloyd Webber, who warns the future of theatre is in jeopardy because of the enforced closure, insisted: “I’m absolutely confident that the air in the London Palladium and in all my theatres is purer than the air outside.”

Lloyd Webber added: “There comes a point when we really can’t go on any more. Theatre is an incredibly labour-intensive business. In many ways putting on a show now is almost a labour of love.

“Very few shows hit the jackpot in the way a Hamilton, Lion King or Phantom Of The Opera do.”

He added that theatre shows were “not like cinema, you can’t just open the building...”

Lloyd Webber said: “We simply have to get our arts sector back open and running... We are at the point of no return really.”

He said arts funding money should be better channelled, “rather than putting it down a bottomless pit... chucking money to keep these buildings going.” he said.

A Public Health England official visiting the London Palladium said people “won’t want to wear masks in theatres” but “theatregoers tend to be a very responsible bunch. People will be very respectful of all the measures,” he said.

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