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Wednesday, 11 July, 2001, 09:08 GMT 10:08 UK
Full-time called on Beautiful Game
Lord Lloyd-Webber, with his wife Madeleine
Lord Lloyd-Webber, with wife Madeleine, will move show to Toronto
Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber's hit new musical The Beautiful Game is to close because of the tourism slump affecting London's West End.

The football show, written with comedian and actor Ben Elton, opened on 26 September and has had rave reviews and awards.

But a spokesman for the show said it had lost just under 1m in advance bookings from the US due to the drop in overseas visitors to the capital.

Comedian and actor Ben Elton
Ben Elton wrote much of the show

Overall, theatre box office takings in London's theatreland have dropped about 10% over the last year.

The main causes are thought to be fears surrounding the foot-and-mouth crisis and the strength of the pound.

Members of the cast were given the news last night that their production at the Cambridge Theatre will close on 1 September.

Awards

The Beautiful Game is based amid the sectarian troubles in Northern Ireland in 1969.

It centres on the hopes and aspirations of two groups of teenagers from opposing sides of the conflict.

They strive to escape from the troubles through football and love.

My Fair Lady
Martine McCutcheon in My Fair Lady remains on top

The show was the idea of Elton - writer of the hit book and stage show Popcorn.

It came about after he said he would be interested in developing an original script with Lord Lloyd-Webber's The Really Useful Company.

Lord Lloyd-Webber, who has a string of hit musicals to his name including Jesus Christ Superstar, Cats and Starlight Express, wrote the music for The Beautiful Game.

As well as winning over reviewers, the show won Lord Lloyd-Webber his first London Critics' Circle Award for best musical.

A selection of songs from the show was also performed at the inauguration gala of President George W Bush this year.

But the show can hold its head up despite the drop in foreign visitors coming to the West End.

Despite its West End closure, The Beautiful Game will transfer to Toronto next year and is also set to go to New York.

Lord Lloyd-Webber is also working on a new stage extravaganza, the Indian musical Bombay Dreams.

A number of West End shows have decided to close early in recent months as the box office is strongly dependent on tourist cash.

However, stage hit My Fair Lady, which transfers from the South Bank to the Theatre Royal Drury Lane this month, has totted up 10m in advance bookings.

See also:

27 Sep 00 | Entertainment
Soccer musical has crowd on its feet
20 Sep 00 | Northern Ireland
Musical premiere boosts Omagh fund
28 Feb 01 | Entertainment
West End crisis 'near'
15 Feb 01 | Entertainment
Critics honour Beautiful Game
28 Mar 01 | Arts
My Fair Lady set for sell-out
06 Nov 00 | Entertainment
Hollywood lends West End its stars
07 Mar 00 | South Asia
Lloyd Webber's Bollywood dream
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