Cameron Mackintosh will not reopen his West End productions, including Les Misérables and Hamilton, until 2021, he has confirmed.
The producer said continued uncertainty about social distancing requirements had forced him to delay his shows’ return in order to ensure that his company is able to survive the crisis.
Last week, The Stage reported that redundancy consultations had begun at Mackintosh’s theatre companies, and the company has now confirmed that the extended delay means this will impact all employees on the affected productions, among others.
Shows include the West End productions of Les Mis, Mary Poppins, Hamilton and The Phantom of the Opera, none of which will return to the stage until "as early as practical in 2021", the company confirmed.
Mackintosh said: "This decision is heartbreaking for me, as I am sure it is for my employees, as everyone who has worked with me over the last 50 years, on or off the stage, knows how much I care about what I do and how I do it.
"Despite the government engaging with the desperate pleas from everyone in the theatre industry, so far there has been no tangible practical support beyond offers to go into debt which I don’t want to do. Their inability to say when the impossible constraints of social distancing will be lifted makes it equally impossible for us to properly plan for whatever the new future is. This has forced me to take drastic steps to ensure that I have the resources for my business to survive and enable my shows and theatres to reopen next year when we are permitted to."
Once social distancing is lifted, Mackintosh said his productions would need several months of preparation in order to be remounted, as well as time for audience confidence to be rebuilt.
Over a month ago, he warned that unless government confirmed planned changes to lockdown and social distancing requirements in the coming weeks, no large-scale musicals would be able to reopen this year.
However, the industry remains no closer to knowing when theatres will be able to reopen without two-metre restrictions.
Macktinosh added: "I have no investors or venture capital backing, everything is funded by me personally and already my companies’ considerable reserves have been massively reduced by the complete closure of our industry everywhere."
"The commercial theatre provides billions of pounds of revenue to the economy. It is time this is recognised and the government takes action to ensure this priceless resource at which the British people excel is helped to survive. Without our theatres being ablaze with life, London cannot properly reopen as one of the world’s greatest cities."
Redundancy consultations have begun for employees at both Mackintosh’s companies – Cameron Mackintosh Ltd and Delfont Mackintosh – while theatres remain closed.
Responding to the redundancy plans last week, BECTU described them as "catastrophic" for the theatre industry
and “yet another example of how badly the government is failing the creative industries”.