In an article in the Evening Standard today, Cameron Mackintosh has said that both the touring and West end productions of The Phantom of the Opera have "sadly permanently had to shut down". He went on to say that he and Andrew Lloyd Webber plan to bring the show back to London in the future.
There had been rumours recently of the show losing its original stage production which has been at Her Majesty's Theatre since the show opened in 1986. Pictures of the set including the iconic chandelier were pictured being taken out of the theatre earlier this month as it was confirmed the venue was having major restoration works carried out while the theatres were closed., though Andrew Lloyd Webber had stated he would try to preserve the original production when it does return.
While it's no surprise that shows have had to shut down due to the pandemic, the use of the word "permanently" is what is surprising. With all the speculation about Phantom and Her Majesty's theatre in recent months, it was expected the show would return to its London home when theatres do reopen. Perhaps Cameron was referring to the extended closure the theatre is likely to have, but by the sounds of things, it could be a little while yet before we see the Phantom back where he belongs.
While The Phantom of the Opera played its unexpected final performance in the West end in March 2020, the show has continued to play in South Korea, helping provide the blueprint for Andrew Lloyd Webbers post pandemic safety measures being trialled at the Palladium at the moment.
I find it hard to believe the second longest running show in the West end (after Les Miserables) is gone "permanently". Everything in the industry is uncertain at the moment but if any show seems like a safe bet to return, it would be this. The West end without Phantom feels like an alien concept. Maybe he has said "permanently" to get people to take how serious the concept of the West end without theatre truly is. Or maybe he is literally talking about the older production meaning it is not returning to make way for the updated version - if so, it is a very poor and misleading choice of words.
While the theatre itself may be closed for the majority of 2021 I would be very surprised if Phantom was not somehow here again shortly after. All Cameron Mackintosh shows have been announced as being closed until 2021 with The Book of Mormon and Dear Evan Hansen recently joining his recently announced titles of The Phantom of the Opera, Hamilton, Les Miserables and Mary Poppins. It does look like when the other shows do reopen, it will be without one of the biggest... but not for too long hopefully.
Here is a link to the full article written by Cameron: