Cinderella: why is Andrew Lloyd Webber show in London’s West End being cancelled and how have cast reacted?

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Cast members hit out at the show after finding out they had been ‘sacked’ online

Andrew Lloyd Webber has announced that the West End production of the musical theatre show Cinderella is closing with its last performance to go ahead on 12 June.

The shock news comes just under a year after the show’s premiere.

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The composer said “mounting a new show in the midst of Covid” had been an “unbelievable challenge”whilst also revealing a new production of Cinderella would open on Broadway in 2023.

Cast members of the production have criticised the theatre group, claiming they only found out when the news was made public.

Actor Summer Strallen says she found out she had been "sacked" when a friend sent her a link to an article.

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What has Andrew Lloyd Webber said?

In a statement Lloyd Webber said he was “incredibly proud” of the show, getting “some of the best reviews” of his career and “ensuring that theatre and live entertainment remained relevant and in the news.”

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He said: “While mounting a new show in the midst of Covid has been an unbelievable challenge, we held the government’s feet to the flames throughout their changes of heart during the pandemic.”

“Now, I am really excited to get to work putting together a new production with (production company) No Guarantees for Broadway.”

He added: “Thank you very much to everyone involved, particularly our UK audiences who have loved and supported the show.

“See you next March on Broadway.”

Andrew Lloyd Webber and Malala Yousafzai attend a Gala performance of "Cinderella" to support The Malala Fund on November 22, 2021 in London, England. (Photo by Joe Maher/Getty Images)Andrew Lloyd Webber and Malala Yousafzai attend a Gala performance of "Cinderella" to support The Malala Fund on November 22, 2021 in London, England. (Photo by Joe Maher/Getty Images)
Andrew Lloyd Webber and Malala Yousafzai attend a Gala performance of "Cinderella" to support The Malala Fund on November 22, 2021 in London, England. (Photo by Joe Maher/Getty Images) | Getty Images

Why has the show been cancelled?

No specific reasons have been given by the production company Really Useful Group for the show’s closure.

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However, Cinderella suffered heavy losses during its run, particularly when performances were suspended from late December to early February to “protect the quality of the show” while the Omicron variant spread rapidly across the UK.

The show’s arrival at the Gillian Lynne theatre in the West End was delayed by a year because of the pandemic.

The show played at reduced capacity during its previews because of government regulations. This caused an estimated weekly loss of £100,000.

Its official opening night was cancelled at the last minute last July because of a Covid case in the cast.

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When the show opened in August its online booking system revealed that there were many empty seats for the remaining performances.

Will refunds be issued?

The website for the show says anyone who has tickets booked for after 12 June will not lose their money.

Theatregoers with tickets after the closing date are to be contacted by the box office or their ticket agent to discuss their options.

Broadway previews for Cinderella, presented with the production company No Guarantees, are set to begin in February 2023.

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How have cast members reacted?

Concern was expressed on social media at the way the news of the show’s closure was delivered over the bank holiday weekend.

Carrie Hope Fletcher, who plays Cinderella, tweeted on Sunday (1 May): “I don’t think I have the words … Sending love to all impacted by today’s news and by how that news was delivered.”

Theatre star Summer Strallen, who had recently had a wig fitting ahead of her taking over the role of The Queen from Rebecca Trehearn, said in an Instagram video that she had only found out the show was cancelled when a friend sent her an article on Sunday.

Strictly Come Dancing finalist and chef John Whaite was due to join the cast in July and take over the role of Prince Charming.

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He said in a message on his Instagram Stories: “This is heartbreaking news.

“For me because I was due to take the role of Prince Charming in July, but more so for the current cast, band and production team who have battled through Covid to bring a brilliant new show to the stage.”

He added: “My heart goes out to each and every one of them.

“I was lucky enough to watch Cinderella in December 2021 and it was one of the most wonderful musicals I’ve seen in a long time. I was so excited to join the cast, it was a lifelong dream come true, but sadly it isn’t to be right now.

“Who knows what the future will hold – I won’t lose hope.”

Luke Latchman, who had also been due to join the show, tweeted: “Imagine – planning in your head 100 times what you’re going to say when it’s announced.

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“Telling your friends and family you have something coming and can’t wait to tell them about it.

He added: “Knowing that career-changing West End lead was coming.

“Then you see a tweet and it’s all gone.”

Daisy Twells had been due to join rehearsals next month and make her West End debut in the ensemble of Cinderella.

She said the news was “devastating” and “found out through a press release that the show is closing”.

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She tweeted: “This was a dream come true for me and yesterday it was all taken away in seconds.”

Cast member Victoria Hamilton-Barritt, who plays the stepmother in the show, tweeted that the role “has been a thrill and an experience I needed … From Monday morning June 13th I’m your women in your rehearsal room.”

What did the theatre group say?

A statement from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s theatre group said: “Everyone involved with Cinderella was contacted by call, text or email either directly or through agents before the news went public.

“The Really Useful Group made every effort to ensure everyone was informed, whilst navigating how quickly the news would travel once posted on social media.”

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