Entertainment Sister Act The Musical is POSTPONED until 2022 without Whoopi Goldberg
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Sister Act The Musical has been postponed until 2022 as the theatre industry continues to struggle amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The production based on the popular 90s movies of the same name will also see original star Whoopi Goldberg, 65, unable to reprise her character Deloris Van Cartier due to the schedule change.
Whoopi was set to perform in the newly adapted West End production, with Jennifer Saunders playing Mother Superior, who was played by Maggie Smith in the film.
The legendary actress first starred as the disco diva hiding out in a convent in the 1992 movie.
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It is believed that casting for Deloris Van Cartier and other roles in the production will be made soon.
Sister Act The Musical, which was due to kick off in July at London's Eventim Apollo, issued a statement to ticketholders on Tuesday explaining that the show had been postponed until 2022.
It read: 'Due to the current and ongoing pandemic restrictions and the knock-on effect this has had to the international production's schedule, Jamie Wilson and Whoopi Goldberg, the producers of Sister Act The Musical, have sadly come to the decision that it is impossible to open the show in London this summer.
'And have postponed performances at the Eventim Apollo until 2022. The new dates for the production in London are 19 July 2022 – 28 August 2022.'
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Talking about her 'disappointing' decision to pull out of performing, Whoopi said: 'Sister Act is near and dear to my heart and I'm disappointed that I will be unable to perform in this production under the circumstances.
'However, my producing partners and I will continue to work towards mounting a fantastic production, with an amazing new cast and we look forward to presenting it when it can be done safely for everyone onstage, behind the scenes and in the audience.'
While producer, Jamie Wilson, added: 'This new version of Sister Act The Musical has been in development for several years now and both Whoopi and I are committed to launching this celebratory, joyous and life affirming production with audiences in the UK.
'We can't wait for everyone involved in the show to get back to doing what they love. We are now in the process of putting together a star-studded cast and will be able to share this news with you soon.
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'We look forward to us all supporting and celebrating theatre when we return to the stage. It will be worth the wait.'
A stage version of Sister Act, for which Whoopi was a producer for, debuted in the West End in 2009 and has since played a successful run on Broadway and on tours across the globe.
Whoopi briefly appeared as Mother Superior at the London Palladium production in 2010 but the new show was set to see the beloved actress back in the role she made famous in Sister Act and Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit for the first time.
Sister Act features original music from Alan Menken, lyrics by Glenn Slater, book by Bill and Cheri Steinkellner with additional book material by Douglas Carter Beane.
Earlier this month, Andrew Lloyd Webber called for a 'game-changing' chemical to be pumped into theatres, schools and restaurants to open up Britain again amid Covid-19 pandemic.
The theatre impresario revealed that his team has spent months lobbying ministers to investigate whether triethylene glycol (TEG) could be used to help open up indoor venues.
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Despite interest from Downing Street, he accused 'frightened' health and safety officials of blocking the left-field plan without proper consideration.
Lord Lloyd Webber, 72, said he contacted No 10 about TEG last year after learning that tests had been successfully carried out at a Broadway theatre.
Manufacturers of the chemical, which is found in 'fogging' used to sanitise theatres and concerts as well as a range of domestic products, claim it can 'clean the air' when continually sprayed in indoor areas.
The composer, whose long-running musical Cats has featured stars including Nicole Scherzinger, offered to test whether the substance can be used safely at his 2,300-seat London Palladium theatre, which successfully hosted a socially distanced pantomime in December.
His team claimed the Department for Culture, Media and Sport was 'set up and ready to go' with a testing programme after his proposal.
However the proposed trials are said to have hit a brick wall when the Health and Safety Executive said it did not support such a move.
The composer said: 'All we are is saying is, 'Look, you should trial this'. Because if it is safe it could be a game-changer for schools and any form of indoor public space.'
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Last year, the Government's independent advisory body SAGE said there is 'limited evidence' that chemical sprays such as TEG effectively reduce airborne virus transmission.
It said TEG has not been tested on the coronavirus and its long-term use could lead to potential health effects. The body called for more evidence to be presented before the use of 'continuous sprays' was considered further.
A ministerial source said the Government was grateful for Lord Lloyd Webber's 'cutting-edge plan' but that the HSE and Public Health England had 'looked fairly' at the proposal and felt there was not enough scientific backing.
Last month, an unregistered product containing TEG was given an emergency exception to be used in two US states. The US Environmental Protection Agency said that Grignard Pure could be used in indoor spaces in Georgia and Tennessee, claiming it could kill 98 per cent of airborne coronavirus.
Lord Lloyd Webber, who has been leading West End efforts to sustain the industry, described feeling 'frustrated' at the inability to test the validity of the material. 'When this came along, the obvious thing to do was to give it to the relevant people in government, he said.
'To be absolutely fair, the government side is really quite interested. But it seems it has hit [a wall] with the health people once again. One is hitting a sort of reticence because people are so frightened of trying something that might be dangerous.'
An HSE spokesman said: 'At present, the evidence from SAGE is that there is limited evidence that the use of chemical sprays such as TEG will be effective to clean the air and reduce airborne virus transmission risks in occupied spaces.
Whoopi Goldberg exits Sister Act musical in London
Whoopi Goldberg exits Sister Act musical in LondonThe actress was billed to reprise her character, Deloris van Cartier, from the 1992 movie in the West End production, but Covid-19-related delays have forced her to exit the project.
'At the same time, there is the potential for respiratory or skin irritation for those exposed over a long period of time. We currently would not recommend using them without further evidence to support their safety and efficiency.'
Sister Act will run at London's Eventim Apollo from 19 July 2022 – 28 August 2022.
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