Andrew Lloyd Webber says he's being forced to close his production of "Cinderella" because of the "impossible conditions" imposed by the British government amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The announcement from the famed composer on Monday came a day before the West End show was poised to open. Over the weekend, a cast member had tested positive for COVID-19.
Webber, in a statement posted on Twitter, said the performer had only a "cameo role" in the musical, but that "as a precautionary measure" two Saturday shows were canceled.
"This morning we carried out additional tests on those due to perform tonight. Every one of them was negative," Webber, 73, said.
"Despite this, the impossible conditions created by the blunt instrument that is the Government's isolation guidance, mean that we cannot continue," he wrote.
Webber called it a "devastating decision" that will "affect the lives and livelihoods of hundreds of people and disappoint the thousands who have booked to see the show."
A statement from Andrew Lloyd Webber pic.twitter.com/a47FN1anG3— Andrew Lloyd Webber (@OfficialALW) July 19, 2021
The "Phantom of the Opera" theater pro, who served in the House of Lords, has been a vocal critic of the British government's handling of COVID-19 among arts venues. He railed against a decision to allow sporting events while limiting the number of audience members inside theaters.
After theaters opened briefly in December before having to close their doors again following a rise in COVID-19 cases, Webber called it "the point I realized this government has no interest in theater."
"Once I realize that," he told The New York Times in a recent interview, "I didn't see any reason to hold back."
This week marked the first time theaters in England were permitted to open at full capacity since the beginning of the pandemic last year.
Webber didn't indicate whether "Cinderella" would open at a later date.