It's been somewhat protracted but at last the deal securing the long-term future of Wimbledon Theatre has been signed (See News, 13 Jun 2003). It was expected that programming at the theatre, which has been dark since May following financial difficulties and redundancies, would recommence in November, but negotiations between the Wimbledon Civic Theatre Trust, the London Borough of Merton and Ambassador Theatre Group have taken longer than expected. However, the ink is dry and ATG will now take over, with the renamed New Wimbledon Theatre due to reopen on 9 February 2004 with Matthew Bourne's touring production of Nutcracker!. Meanwhile, another London theatre whose future has looked uncertain, Hackney Empire has postponed - but confirmed - its reopening after a refit lasting more than two years and costing some £15 million. The collapse of the building firm overseeing the renovations has been the latest in a line of hurdles that Hackney has faced. The theatre was due to reopen this month with Kwame Kwei Armah's Hackney-set Elmina's Kitchen, the expected reopening date has now been set for January 2004 (See News, 13 Jun 2003).