On May 16, part of the ceiling of the Theatre Royal, Haymarket, collapsed, injuring audience members. The incident occurred during a performance of When Harry Met Sally. A chandelier dropped four feet before being caught by a safety rope. However, parts of the ceiling fell onto audience members. Up to 15 spectators were injured, and were reported by police to have suffered from cuts, bruises and shock. The performance was stopped and the theatre evacuated. Star Luke Perry jumped into the stalls and personally helped with the evacuation process. Some subsequent performances of the show have been canceled for repair work, with performances expected to resume on the evening of May 19 at 8 PM.
The theatre’s chairman Arnold M. Crook, issued a statement, saying, “We are of course extremely concerned by what happened last night and we extend our sympathy to all audience members affected . . . Our experts are at the moment investigating the cause of the incident.” The show’s producer James Tod also issued a statement, avowing “full confidence in the management of the Theatre Royal, Haymarket.”
Whether the incident will cause the government to consider a swift response to the Theatres Trust’s plea is a matter of speculation, but warning signs are there. Cameron Mackintosh recently moved his production of Les Misérables from the Palace Theatre so that owner Andrew Lloyd Webber could close it for renovations (and make it ready to reopen with his own show, The Woman In White later in 2004). Mackintosh has pledged some of his own fortune to improve some of the venues he owns.