More Lion King shows cancelled in London over Covid absences

Theatre productions are being forced to shut their doors due to staffing issues.
More Lion King shows cancelled in London over Covid absences

By Mike Bedigan and Kerri-Ann Roper, PA reporters

The London production of The Lion King has announced further cancellations of performances due to “ongoing Covid-enforced absences” in the cast and crew.

Shows were due to return to today at the Lyceum Theatre after the December 14th and 15th dates were cancelled, but the Ambassador Theatre Group said in a statement that performances “can no longer play as scheduled” and it could be December 21 before they can resume.

An update on Twitter said: “Due to ongoing Covid-enforced absences within our cast and crew, unfortunately performances of Disney’s The Lion King scheduled to take place between Thursday 16 December and Sunday 19 December can no longer play as scheduled.

“We hope to resume performances on Tuesday 21 December at 2.30pm, and will provide further information as soon as possible.

“Guests affected by this change will be contacted by email in the coming days by their point of purchase, with information on how to exchange tickets into a new performance date, request a credit voucher, or to receive a refund.

“On behalf of everyone at Disney’s The Lion King we apologise for the disappointment and for any inconvenience this may cause. Thank you for your continued support.”

Several shows in the US and UK have had to shut temporarily due to surging coronavirus case numbers and the spread of the Omicron variant.

The Hamilton musical has been hit in both countries, with its show on Broadway, New York, cancelled just hours before curtain-up on Wednesday due to “breakthrough cases” of the virus.

Its counterpart at the Victoria Palace Theatre, in central London, said it plans to resume shows with its 2.30pm matinee today after December 15th’s evening show was cancelled.

Two performances of Cabaret At The Kit Kat Club, featuring Eddie Redmayne and Jessie Buckley and being staged at the Playhouse Theatre in the West End, were also cancelled on Wednesday.

Both the matinee and evening performances of the production did not go ahead, with a Twitter message for the evening show saying that “despite extremely robust measures being in place, a member of the backstage company tested positive for Covid-19 this morning”.

It added: “In order to complete testing on the wider company, we are sorry to have to cancel tonight’s performance of Cabaret at the Kit Kat Club. Your point of purchase will be in touch very shortly with alternative options.”

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

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, were also cancelled until Thursday.

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

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.

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

Broadway shows hit by coronavirus issues include The Tina Turner Musical, which was forced to cancel both afternoon and evening performances on Wednesday due to “a limited number” of positive test results within the company.

Harry Potter And The Cursed Child in New York cancelled its Wednesday matinee but said the evening performance would still go ahead.

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 their Covid passport when attending theatre productions in the UK.

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