It’s no secret that Andrew Lloyd Webber has been on the forefront of trying to bring theater back in the time of COVID-19. He’s already tested out a one-night production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at the Palladium with the audience at only 30% capacity. Webber, however, was unimpressed with the experience and, across the board, theater industry players have declared such a set up to be financially impractical.
Still, Andrew Lloyd Webber has remained optimistic, promising the return of live theater to anyone who will listen. When the West End production of Webber’s Phantom of the Opera had to draw its curtains due to COVID-19, producer Cameron Mackintosh expressed his concerns about the “huge financial hit” the show was suffering from the shutdown, but Webber, every the optimist, insisted he is determined to “reopen as soon as is possible.”
Now, Andrew Lloyd Webber is taking his devotion to theater one step further, by being a guinea pig for a recently released, experimental COVID-19 vaccine. On August 12, Webber Tweeted the following:
Today ALW posted a photo on Twitter of him receiving the vaccine saying, “Just completed the Oxford Covid-19 vaccine trial. I’ll do anything to get theatres large and small open again and actors and musicians back to work. – ALW #SaveOurStages @nivassoc.” The 72-year-old icon wore a t-shirt printed with the “Save our stages” hashtag for the event.
The vaccine Webber received today was developed by the drug company AstraZeneca along with Oxford University. People from the UK, United States, Brazil and Africa have volunteered to be a part of a clinical trial for the vaccine.
The theater community has shown its support for composer ALW and his bold move. Theater, and other live events, have been particularly hard hit by social distancing restrictions instituted to stop the spread of COVID. The extended shutdown across the globe has seen a staggering loss in jobs for not only performers, but also crew, tech, stagehands, front of house workers like house managers and more.
Webber has been contributing to the community for more than 50 years and is best known for his musicals Jesus Christ Superstar, Evita, Cats, Phantom of the Opera, and School of Rock among others. He has seven Tony Awards and seven Olivier Awards including the “Lifetime Achievement Award” from both organizations.