The West End production of ‘Cinderella’ found its final bow in London on Sunday night, although a key member of the production’s creative team was absent from the Gillian Lynne Theatre. Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber, who composed the music for the re-adaptation of the classic fairy tale, did not appear in person at the venue.
Instead, the musical theater titan penned a letter, read by the production’s director Laurence Connor, thanking the production members before calling the endeavor a “costly mistake” — a comment that was met with loud boos.
“Very sorry not to be with you today but I want to thank everyone, from our fabulous cast, crew and musicians, to the amazing creative team, Laurence,” Connor read aloud, pausing to indicate that Webber thanked him before listing other major contributors. “I keep thinking if we had opened just three months later, we wouldn’t have had to delay our opening twice because of COVID…I promise you we’d be here for a very long time.”
“My big thanks go to everyone. We kept the Government’s feet on fire and led the charge to reopen the West End,” Webber’s statement continued. “It may have been a costly mistake, but I’m proud of what we’ve done and will forever be grateful to everyone who supported me.”
The recitation of the “expensive mistake” drew murmurs from the audience and visibly confused looks from the production’s cast as they took the stage.
“‘Cinderella’ has received some of the best reviews of my career and I’m very proud of that and I owe it to you all. Love, Andrew,” concluded Webber’s statement. After a brief pause, a dozen cheers filled the auditorium. Remarkably, Webber’s name had been booed earlier in the curtain call after Connor announced that the composer had sent a letter in lieu of his attendance.
“Cinderella” has had a rocky road in recent months. The production, with lyrics by David Zippel and a book by Emerald Fennell, the writer and director of Promising Young Woman, finally opened in August 2021 after multiple delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Cinderella was forced to suspend operations during the subsequent holiday season due to a surge in COVID-19 in London at the time.
Cinderella is just one of many troubled productions across the theater industry, which continues to struggle with limited attendance and unpredictable disruptions due to the pandemic. Cast and crew were informed of the show’s impending closure in an abrupt announcement in early May that sparked demands for compensation from Equity, the union for performers and creative workers.
Representatives for Andrew Lloyd Webber and Emerald Fennell could not be reached immediately. diversity also reached out to Equity for comment. The Society of London Theaters had no comment.
“What I think about this production is that we created something really special,” Connor told the audience during his own curtain call statement. “I want us to see that final performance that day with everyone.”