Speaking as he reopened the Theatre Royal Drury Lane following a £60million restoration, Lord Lloyd-Webber said: “One has to realise… there is not much more petrol in the tank frankly.”
He owns seven theatres in the West End: the Cambridge Theatre, Adelphi Theatre (co-owned with the Nederlander Group), the Gillian Lynne Theatre, Her Majesty’s Theatre, Theatre Royal Drury Lane, the London Palladium and the Other Palace.
Through our Raise the Curtain campaign, The Daily Express has been lobbying the Government to support the arts during the Covid crisis.
But Lord Lloyd-Webber warned that there was still a major crisis within theatreland.
He said: “If we do find this [the pandemic] goes on and there is no government help at all, really, then I think the commercial sector will probably see people go under.
“We have all gone on as long as we can, paying our staff, but we just won’t be able to carry on.”
The impresario said he needed to balance the fact he is a theatre owner with his role as a composer.
He said the situation could get worse, meaning he could be forced to sell off his theatres.
He said: “I have to balance up the fact I have the theatres, as it’s my way of saying thank you to a profession that has been very good to me, but in the end, I am a composer.
“I am 73 now and I need to go where I can get music performed. “I need to write another show as that is what I do.
“And these shows make it possible to do something such as I have done here [at Theatre Royal Drury Lane].”
But he stressed: “If we can’t afford to do it then we have to make a decision and my decision has to be that fundamentally I am a composer. While it is wonderful to be able to do something like this, to have theatres and run them as I do, I won’t be able to go on.”
He warned that there was a danger that his theatres would not go to British owners. Lord Lloyd-Webber said: “I pray and pray and pray that that is not going to happen.”
He added that he still hoped to get the Cinderella production to open but warned he could not go on “paying a cast forever and ever and ever”.