By Christian Holub
July 29, 2020 at 12:44 PM EDT
Phantom of the Opera
Credit: Keith Mayhew/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

It's the end of an era. After 34 straight years playing at Her Majesty’s Theater in London’s West End, Andrew Lloyd Webber's super-popular musical The Phantom of the Opera is finally closing due to concerns over COVID-19. The change was announced by producer Cameron Mackintosh in a column in the U.K.’s Evening Standard newspaper.

"Andrew and I have had to sadly permanently shut down our London and UK touring productions of The Phantom of the Opera," Mackintosh wrote. But, he added, they "are determined to bring it back to London in the future."

Webber himself had a slightly more optimistic spin, tweeting on Wednesday that "as far as I’m concerned Phantom will reopen as soon as is possible."

So perhaps it's not the end so much as a hopefully-brief interruption. According to Mackintosh, Phantom is just one of many ways his productions and theaters have suffered from a lack of necessary emergency arts funding by the British government in the time of COVID.

"With no endgame to this crisis in sight, last week I had to follow through with the awful, distressing downsizing of my organization to ensure my company’s survival," he wrote. "In early May I warned Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden and the Government that this would be necessary unless we received financial help. Despite the recent announcement of a £1.57 billion rescue fund for the arts, this help still hasn’t materialized."

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