Theatre News

Norwich Theatre Royal 2020 pantomime will not go ahead

The venue’s show has been delayed to 2021

Theatre Royal Norwich
Theatre Royal Norwich
© Northmetpit / Public domain

Theatre Royal Norwich has postponed its 2020 pantomime and moved the proposed show, Dick Whittington and His Cat, to 2021.

Chief executive Stephen Crocker said today: "It is with very heavy hearts that we have had to make the decision to postpone our 2020 Pantomime Dick Whittington and His Cat to Christmas 2021.

"We know this will be a huge disappointment to our loyal pantomime audience who look forward to this traditional Christmas family treat and this is what saddens us most."

Many venues are facing significant financial peril while the pandemic continues, with no sector-specific support being given by the government. Last week the Culture Secretary unveiled a roadmap to reopening, though this did not include any mention of investment or specific dates.

Crocker continued: "The huge financial losses we are currently experiencing due to an extended period of closure, as well as there having been no government support package for theatres, mean that we are no longer able to commit to such a large scale production because of its substantial up-front costs."

"COVID-19 has made a huge dent in future sales for all shows at all of our venues including ticket sales for our pantomime which are significantly lower than usual. This makes the risk of staging the pantomime too great and it is clear from our audience surveys that the government's early warning to avoid theatres and the prolonged wait for any re-opening plan has dented public confidence in returning to our venues."

"Our commitment to our audiences throughout the year, and especially at Christmas, is to deliver magical and brilliant experiences and we do not feel this would be possible in the current circumstances. To proceed would do a disservice to our audiences who have been so loyal and supportive at this unprecedented time.

"We are planning to stage our new production of Dick Whittington and His Cat for the Theatre Royal over Christmas 2021 and it promises to be our best panto ever."

A number of productions are looking to reopen after Christmas, though some are still keen to begin performances earlier. The Prince of Egypt has announced new West End running dates from November, while Sleepless the Musical plans to begin its run with socially distanced audiences from August. Kings Theatre Portsmouth's pantomime is scheduled to go ahead, with similar measures in place.

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