The roof of the Piccadilly Theatre in central London collapsed onto the audience this evening during a performance of Death Of A Salesman.
The West End auditorium had to be evacuated just 20 minutes into the show after a chunk of the ceiling fell onto members of the audience.
Several spectators suffered minor injuries after the incident and witnesses described hearing screams from nearby audience members in the Grand Circle.
More than 1,000 people were evacuated from the popular venue, the Met Police said.
Emergency services were called to the theatre shortly before 8pm after part of the ceiling crashed down into the auditorium.
The Metropolitan Police said a ‘few’ people had suffered minor injuries and that emergency services remained on scene.
Part of the ceiling that came down at the Piccadilly Theatre, London, could be seen (above) during a production of Death of A Salesman tonight
The auditorium had to be emptied sending the crowd rushing outside the Piccadilly Theatre (pictured) after it was evacuated when part of the roof collapsed
Arthur Miller’s Death Of A Salesman on the West End stars Wendell Pierce, who shot to fame as Detective Bunk Moreland in The Wire and later played Meghan Markle’s on-screen father as Robert Zane in legal drama, Suits.
Pierce, who plays Willy Loman in the show, apologised to those who had been force to leave the performance. It had transferred to the West End from the Young Vic this week.
Tonight’s show had to be cancelled while the ceiling was inspected and made safe for the public to return.
Outside the 91-year-old theatre, Pierce apologised to the audience and asked them to come back to see the production at a later date.
The US actor, who also starred in Selma, joked in an online clip posted on Twitter: ‘I did not mean for it to go like this.’
He then added: ‘I would like to thank you all for one, safely evacuating and I apologise and we’re glad that no one was hurt and I ask you all to come back and see our production.
‘We’re so honoured that you came tonight and we’re so sorry that this unfortunately happened.’
Screams were heard from audience members in the Grand Circle when a chunk of the theatre’s ceiling (pictured) fell onto the crowd this evening
US actor and star of Death Of A Salesman, Wendell Pierce, apologised to audience members outside the Piccadilly Theatre after the performance was cancelled when a piece of the ceiling collapsed
The London Ambulance Service, London Fire Brigade with three fire engines as well as the Metropolitan Police were called and road closures were put in place around the theatre, Scotland Yard said.
A video posted on social media showed firefighters arriving at the scene and closing off the road outside before rushing into the venue.
Witness Martin George, who was sitting in the Grand Circle, said there were screams coming from the audience as part of the ceiling came crashing down.
The 41-year-old said: ‘About 10 minutes into the performance you could hear this slight dripping sound in the [Grand] circle and people were looking around, wondering what was happening, but the play carried on.
‘As the minutes passed, the dripping became more frequent and it sounded like more water was coming through the ceiling, causing a few people to get up and move.
‘The sound eventually got so loud that we stood up and started to leave, as we were wondering what was going to happen.
‘Then, as we stood up, this huge chunk of ceiling, about three to four metres across, crashed down.
Firefighters outside the Piccadilly Theatre after it was evacuated when a piece of the roof fell onto the audience
The cast of the show, which recently transferred from the Young Vic to the Piccadilly Theatre (pictured the audience tonight after the auditorium evacuated) apologised after the performance had to be cancelled
Emergency services rushed to the scene in central London at around 8pm to close off the road outside the popular venue
BBC reporter James Waterhouse tweeted: Part of the roof apparently caved in the first half of Death of a Salesman at the Piccadilly Theatre. A few screams. Everyone evacuated. Now waiting outside.’
The Met’s City of Westminster Police said on Twitter: ‘Police on scene with LAS & LFB at Piccadilly Theatre in Denman St #Westminster after reports of a ceiling collapse around 7.59pm.
‘Everyone is out of the theatre. A few people have suffered minor injuries. Road closures in place. Motorists advised to use alternative routes.’
It is not the first time a ceiling has collapsed in one of London’s theatres.
In 2013, about 80 people were injured, seven seriously, after part of the Apollo theatre’s ceiling collapsed on top of them.
More than 700 people were inside the Shaftesbury Avenue venue, which was 45 minutes into the National Theatre’s performance of The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time, when the incident took place.
Actor Wendell Pierce bowing at the curtain call during the press night performance of Death Of A Salesman on Monday night, which passed off without the ceiling collapsing. He apologised to the audience after tonight’s performance was cancelled after 20 minutes