Producer Cameron Mackintosh has said he fears theatres will not be able to stage large-scale musicals until early next year, unless the government announces plans to lift the lockdown within the next few weeks.
Speaking to Michael Ball on BBC Radio 2, Mackintosh said: "The truth is, until social distancing doesn’t exist any more we can’t even plan to reopen, and from the moment social distancing is gone it will take us four to five months to actually get the actors back together and to re-do the mothballed theatres.
"It’s a huge thing, each big musical has about 200 people working in one building, that’s why live theatre is the most exhilarating experience you can ever go to."
He added: "If we don’t hear in a few weeks, the truth is I don’t think we will be able to come back until early next year, that’s my fear.
"And the longer it is until they can say social distancing is gone, the longer it will be for the theatres to be able to plan to come back."
The producer said he believes theatres in London and on Broadway will be the last to return and he is already planning to re-open shows in other parts of the world.
Mackintosh added he wants the audience and actors to feel safe before his shows reopen, arguing that an audience being spaced out due to social distancing would be a "horrible experience".
His comments follow similar concerns from other industry leaders, including director of the National Theatre Rufus Norris, that preparations are being made for venues to stay closed until 2021.
Mackintosh also announced on the Michael Ball show that his foundation is donating £250,000 to be split between Acting for Others, the Musicians’ Union Coronavirus Hardship Fund and Tom Moore’s Walk for the NHS fund. This is as a result of a pledge for the foundation to donate £5 for every download of a concert version of Les Miserables.