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Current and future cast members must be compensated, Equity says, after brandishing the abrupt closure “unacceptable”.

Protestors gather outside Gillian Lynne Theatre
Protestors gather outside Gillian Lynne Theatre


The early closure of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cinderella in the West End has been met with widespread criticism and protest.

Cast and crew involved in Sunday’s (1 May) matinee performance learned the last showing would be on 12 June, a month earlier than scheduled. Many of those not in attendance found out through the story breaking online.

A protest held outside London’s Gillian Lynne Theatre on Tuesday (3 May), where the production is showing, called for all creative workers to be treated with dignity at work.


Equity General Secretary Paul Fleming said cast and crew had been “effectively sacked by press release,” adding the trade union "will get compensation for the pain and distress caused".

The union will seek payments equivalent to the full value of current cast members’ contracts until the end of their original contract date (17 July), as well as "adequate reimbursement" for those who were due to start in June.

Equity is also demanding producers give more thought to their business decisions, ensure all cast members are given updates before news is released online, and that it is told in advance of future intended closures.

Some cast members said they did not find out straight away because they were informed via their agents, who were unavailable to pass on the news in the middle of the bank holiday weekend. But a spokesperson for Lloyd Webber’s Really Useful Group said “every effort” was made to ensure cast members were notified of the cancellation.

The production company gave no official reason for the show’s early closure, but the cancellation follows months of poor tickets sales.

The show was the first big-budget musical to return to the West End following pandemic-related closures in August 2021, albeit a year later than originally scheduled. It reopened in February 2022 after a two-month hiatus following rising Omicron case numbers, but reports suggest reduced capacity showings contributed to an estimated weekly loss of £100,000.

Time to change

The fallout has reignited calls for improved industry standards to protect theatre workers from sudden cancellations.

At Tuesday’s protest, union officials said they hope to meet representatives of the Society of London Theatre to examine how West End cast and stage members are treated by production companies.

In the wake of Cinderella’s closure, there have been calls online for the West End to adopt contracts akin to Broadway, where producers must provide a minimum of two weeks' pay to workers following a premature closure.

Cinderella cast member Tobias Charles tweeted that a two-month noticed period should be required both ways, adding that current contracts “allow for us to be treated poorly”.

Philippa Childs, Head of creative union BECTU, joined calls for reform.

“This latest announcement makes it clear urgent change is needed to modernise the industry, create fairer working conditions, re-balance working lives and safeguard the future of the industry," she said.

Broadway bounce back

Lloyd Webber now plans to turn his attention to repurposing Cinderella into a Broadway production next year.

The impresario is working with New York-based production company No Guarantees to take the show to the States. Previews are set to begin next February, with the show opening in March.  

Lloyd Webber’s decision to announce the revamped show, while failing to comment on the way the West End cancellation was handled, received backlash online.

His statement said he is “really excited” to take the production overseas.

“While mounting a new show in the midst of Covid has been an unbelievable challenge, we held the government’s feet to the flames throughout their changes of heart during the pandemic,” the statement added.