West End theatres will not reopen until June at the earliest due to the coronavirus crisis, it has been confirmed.
The Society of London Theatre said all performances would be cancelled until May 31 and venues will “process existing bookings while we wait for further clarity from the government in terms of when we will be able to reopen”.
West End theatres closed on March 16 until further notice, with most operators postponing performances until the end of April. However, with the UK still on lockdown and no end date yet confirmed, SOLT said it wanted to provide customers with clear information and “help ease the unprecedented strain on box offices and ticket agents”.
In a statement issued on behalf of the major commercial West End operators and the Society of Ticket Agents and Retailers, SOLT said: “Theatre box office and ticket agents teams are continuing to work through the very high number of ticket orders affected by the cancellations. An average of 300,000 people a week attend West End theatres, so this a huge task. The situation is exacerbated by the fact that all our teams are now working remotely in response to government restrictions, many with reduced numbers of staff due to the virus, and this will be adding to the time it will take us to process your order.”
It added: “We are so sorry that in these testing and difficult times you are not able to enjoy the show you have booked for and hope the following helps clarify next steps in respect of your tickets.”
Ticket holders for cancelled performances are being advised by SOLT not to contact box-office staff but wait to be contacted about refunds, exchanges or to donate the cost of their tickets.
The shut down has already prompted the permanent closure of several West End shows including Waitress and Thriller Live, both of which had been already announced an end to their runs but have closed earlier than planned.
The extended closure period also means that shows due to open in the next two months must be delayed, including the West End transfer of To Kill a Mockingbird.
It had been due to open on May 21 at the Gielgud Theatre, but producers said that due to the impact the delayed start will have on the show’s production timetable, all performances will be postponed and rescheduled.
All remaining performances of Tom Stoppard’s play Leopoldstadt, which had been due to end its run on June 13, have also been postponed. However, its producers said they are planning for the play to return later in the year.
Ambassador Theatre Group confirmed last week that all performances in its West End venues would be suspended until May 31, alongside those at all its theatres across the UK.