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Northampton and Colchester venues postpone pantomimes and Christmas shows

The two venues have today revealed that going ahead with productions is unviable

Mercury Theatre Colchester's pantomime
© Pamela Raith

More pantomimes have been postponed as the impacts of the Covid pandemic are felt across the UK.

Royal and Derngate, Northampton and Mercury Theatre Colchester have both today revealed that their festive productions will not be going ahead – citing the fact that they are still uncertain if indoor shows without social distancing will be permitted by the end of the year.

Royal and Derngate's chief executive Jo Gordon said: "We are so sorry to make this announcement today and know that the news will come as a disappointment for many. While social distancing measures remain in place, performances of this scale and spectacle are simply not financially viable in our auditoriums as we wouldn't have anywhere near enough seats safely available to cover our costs."

The venue is having to enter into redundancy consultations, which will affect up to 20 per cent of the theatre's workforce. It is also cancelling its unannounced festive musical, which conventionally runs alongside the pantomime.

Mercury executive producer Tracey Childs said: "We are devastated not to be able to put on our annual Mercury pantomime this festive season. Like many other regional theatres, panto is not only our financial mainstay, but also an event that our whole community look forward to and enjoy. We love seeing our auditorium packed with smiling faces as families and friends enjoy this wonderful Christmas tradition together, but the safety of our audiences and staff, both on and off stage, must be our top priority.

"To open with social distancing measures in place would mean reducing our capacity to around 25 per cent. Unfortunately it is impossible to produce a show of the quality and standard that you have come to expect from the Mercury on a quarter of the income." Without the clear guidance our industry has been crying out for, this year, we are sorry to say the show cannot go on."

Last week, Qdos pantomimes revealed that it was in the process of postponing its shows (over 30 at locations across the country). Further Qdos pantomimes to have been delayed include pieces at Theatre Royal Concert Hall in Nottingham and Hull New Theatre.