The West End production took its last bow at Gillian Lynne Theatre in London on Sunday evening (12 June). The renowned composer was not in attendance.
Webber instead penned a letter that was read aloud by the production’s director, Laurence Connor. A snippet of the speech was uploaded to Twitter.
In it, he praised the members of the production – including “our fabulous cast, crew, and musicians, the superb creative team...” – before calling the venture of opening a musical during a pandemic a “costly mistake”.
“I am hugely sorry not to be able to be with you today, but I want to thank everyone from our fabulous cast, crew and musicians, the superb creative team, Laurence,” Connor read aloud.
“I keep thinking if only we had opened three months later, we wouldn’t have had to postpone our opening twice because of Covid [...] And if only we had had a crumb of help from the Recovery Fund, I promise you we would have been here for a very long while to come.
“Anyway, my huge thanks to everyone. We kept the government’s feet to the flames and led the charge to the West End open again,” his statement continued. “It might have been a costly mistake, but I am proud that we did and proud of everyone who supported me.”
As shown in the video, the “costly mistake” remark was met with murmurs from the audience.
Connor continued reading Webber’s statement, reciting: “Cinderella got some of the best reviews of my career. I am immensely proud of it and it’s hugely due to you all. All my love, Andrew.”
Following the conclusion of the statement, jeers filled the venue.
Webber’s name had previously been booed earlier that evening during the curtain call, following Connor’s announcement that the composer had sent a letter in his absence.
On Monday (13 June), the composer addressed the backlash to his comment in an Instagram story, writing: “I am devestated to have been reported to have said that my beloved prodcution of Cinderella was a ‘costly mistake’.
Nothing could be further from the truth, and I am very sorry if my words have been misunderstood.”
He continued: “We were desperate to support the West End after two years of a devestating pandemic and the mistake we made was trying to open too early, meaning we had to postpone twice.”
On 2 May, it was announced that the West End production would close at the Gillian Lynne Theatre in June less than a year after its official opening.
The production opened in August 2021 after several pandemic-related delays. It was later forced to pause operations due to a Covid spike in London.
Early reports claimed that the current cast members were notified of the cancellation minutes before the show, with other future cast members claiming they only found out via social media.
In a statement provided to The Independent, a representative for Lloyd Webber denied these reports, saying: “The timeline being reported online is not correct. The entire company working yesterday were told in person after the matinee performance.”
Following the news of cancellation, the cast of Cinderella and other actors have expressed their anger and disapproval on Twitter. The abrupt cancellation also prompted demands for compensation from Equity, the trade union for performers and creative workers.
You can read The Independent’s three-star review of Cinderella here.