Theatre News

Hackney Empire, Lyric Hammersmith, Queen's Theatre Hornchurch and Theatre Royal Stratford East postpone pantos

The four venues have collectively postponed their festive offerings

Cinderella at the Lyric Hammersmith Theatre in 2019
Cinderella at the Lyric Hammersmith Theatre in 2019
© Helen Maybanks

Four major London venues have announced that they will not be presenting pantomimes this winter.

Hackney Empire, Lyric Hammersmith Theatre, Queen's Theatre Hornchurch and Theatre Royal Stratford East have all revealed that their festive pieces will be delayed until 2021 while uncertainty over the coronavirus continues.

Yamin Choudury, artistic director and Jo Hemmant, executive director, Hackney Empire said: "Firstly we want to thank everybody for their passionate and tireless support, particularly over the last five months, the donations and messages of love and encouragement we have received have given us the strength we need to keep pushing forward in increasingly punishing circumstances. It makes decisions like today's even more difficult.

"Everyone involved in bringing our world-famous pantomime to Hackney is devastated, but we know that we have to make any decision necessary, however unimaginable a few months ago, to ensure that Hackney Empire can remain this incredible and singular sanctuary of creativity and togetherness for another 120 years and more."

Hackney's next show, Jack and the Beanstalk, will run from November 2021 to January 2022, while the Lyric's Aladdin will run from 13 November 2021 to 2 January 2022, Queen's Theatre's Aladdin runs from 25 November to 2 January 2022 and Theatre Royal Stratford East's Red Riding Hood runs from 20 November 2021 to 8 January 2022.

Nadia Fall, artistic director and Eleanor Lang, executive director, Theatre Royal Stratford East said: "Panto has been part of the Stratford East Christmas since 1884 and so it's with a heavy heart that we have to postpone Red Riding Hood. So many people tell us that the Stratford East panto is the first thing they saw as a child, and so many families come every year as their Christmas tradition, and each year over 11,000 school children come to our panto too. It's also our biggest show; employing a wide range of freelancers, who may now have no work over the Christmas period.

"Panto means so much to our audiences, the artists and freelancers that put it together and to us as a building. Despite the disappointment for this year, we are determined that we will have a brilliant panto in the making by Carl Miller and Robert Hyman next year and we can't wait to share Red Riding Hood with our audiences in 2021."

Last week, Qdos pantomimes said it was planning to postpone all of its 2020 productions.