Coronavirus in Scotland: Run of Lion King halted as Playhouse shuts 'with immediate effect'

The Edinburgh Playhouse has been shut down “with immediate effect” by its owners due to the coronavirus outbreak – bring its run of performances of The Lion King to a halt.

Coronavirus in Scotland: Run of Lion King halted as Playhouse shuts 'with immediate effect'
Coronavirus in Scotland: Run of Lion King halted as Playhouse shuts 'with immediate effect'

The 3000-capacity venue, Britain’s biggest all-seater theatre, will go dark indefinitely after Prime Minister Boris Johnson suggested people should avoid going to see shows during the outbreak.

The Ambassador Theatre Group, which runs the Playhouse, immediately decided to suspend all future performances at its venues and announced a further update would be given to ticketholders in the next couple of days. The move also affects its two venues in Glasgow – the King’s Theatre and the Theatre Royal.

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The Lion King has been in residency at the Playhouse since early December and had its run extended by several weeks due to its popularity, with the final show not due to be staged until Saturday 18 April.

Chief executive Mark Cornell said: “We understand that this decision comes as a disappointment, and a massive inconvenience for those of you already on the way to a venue this evening, but ultimately we all want the same thing: the health and safety of our communities, and we believe this is the correct decision to make.

“Given the current ambiguity and lack of clarity as to how long our theatres may be closed for, we hope to provide you with an update within the next 48 hours regarding the exchange of tickets. We will be consulting with industry bodies and the government over the immediate future.

“For now, we would like to thank you for your understanding and patience, and to recognise the incredible efforts and support of producers, artists, partners and customers over this difficult period.”

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Many in the theatre industry are furious that the UK Government has not enforced a shutdown, which may leave them unable to make insurance claims.

Mr Johnson said: “What we're doing is giving very strong advice that public venues such as theatres should no longer be visited.

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"The proprietors of those venues are taking the logical steps that you would imagine, you are seeing the change happen already.

"As for enforcement, we have the powers if necessary but I don't believe it will be necessary to use those powers."