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West End shows cancelled as Covid forces cast and crew to isolate

The Lyceum Theatre showing posters from the production the Lion King (PA)
The Lyceum Theatre showing posters from the production the Lion King (PA)

Several West End shows including The Lion King have been forced to cancel performances due to outbreaks of coronavirus among cast and crew.

Rising case numbers and the spread of the Omicron variant have prompted a number of productions to shut temporarily.

The Lion King at the Lyceum Theatre cancelled shows on Tuesday and Wednesday due to “Covid-enforced absences within our cast and crew” – with performances due to resume on Thursday.

Life of Pi photocall – London
A puppet from the stage production of Life of Pi (Ian West/PA)

Life Of Pi, based on the Booker Prize-winning 2001 novel by Canadian author Yann Martel, scrapped five shows at Wyndham’s Theatre but says it will return on Wednesday.

Producers said there had been “several cases of Covid in the company” despite “robust measures taken”.

Performances at the National Theatre of Hex, based on the classic fairy tale Sleeping Beauty, are also cancelled until Thursday.

Meanwhile, The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time is cancelled until Friday at the Troubadour Theatre Wembley.

On Tuesday, Southwark Playhouse in London announced it was cancelling the remainder of its run of The Rhythmics, described as “Calendar Girls meets The Full Monty”, after having to postpone press night twice.

The show’s final performance took place on Saturday due to positive Covid-19 cases within the company and “the effect of subsequent isolation requirements on the viability of the show”.

The Royal Shakespeare Company’s The Comedy Of Errors at the Barbican in London has also been halted, with the production hoping to restart on Thursday December 23 ahead of Christmas.

Force Majeure at the Donmar Warehouse was cancelled until Friday following positive coronavirus cases in the cast.

A statement to ticket-holders said: “Due to cases of Covid-19 within the company, performances of Force Majeure Tuesday 14 – Thursday December 16 have been cancelled. We are very disappointed, but the safety of our performers, staff and audiences is our priority.”

The festive period is crucial to theatres for income and reaching new audiences, especially so after most productions were cancelled or delayed in 2020.

This year theatres have been able to stage productions without restrictions on audience capacity.

Many venues have implemented the See It Safely scheme, from the Solt and UK Theatre bodies, which allows venues to display a special mark once they have signed up to a code of conduct and proved they are following the latest guidance.

Approved venues receive a toolkit including the mark, which can be displayed on venues and promotional material, an animated safety video, signage and further training.

Audiences now have to wear masks and show a Covid passport when attending the theatre, following the emergence of the Omicron variant.

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