Newcastle’s Theatre Royal suspending its annual panto until April 2021

Claire Maggie Dowens reports on the news that Newcastle Theatre Royal will be suspending its annual pantomime for the first time in 120 years.

Claire Maggie Dowens
20th December 2020
Robin Hood Panto | Credit: Wikipedia

For the first time in a staggering 120 years, Newcastle’s Theatre Royal will be left without its Christmas pantomime following the recent government announcement of the city being placed in a tier three lockdown in an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19.

After weeks of excited anticipation in the lead up to a socially distanced pantomime production of Robin Hood, the Theatre Royal has been left with no other choice than to reschedule the show to April 2021. In a post featured on its Facebook page, the theatre justified their “difficult decision” stating; "current restrictions mean that we are unable to open and without a clear timeframe for the city moving to Tier 2, progressing with the show in December is not possible.”

Performances of the show had initially been scheduled to begin on 24 November with North-East panto legends Danny Adams and Clive Webb set to play out their slapstick comedy routines and work their festive magic. The show had also been set to star 2009 X Factor winner Joe McElderry. 

Speaking to the BBC, Chief Executive Phillip Bernays further discussed the theatre’s painstaking decision to postpone the show, stating;

“it was a risk for everybody. Do we put it on or not? Do we start rehearsals and then have to stop? How will things be in January? In the end we thought let's just play safe and move it to April. It was almost sold-out. I think audiences understand. They've been very supportive and I think they'll come and see it at Easter instead."

Chief Executive Phillip Bernay

Ticket holders are currently in the process of being contacted and issued with full refunds as well as being offered priority booking for the new April performance dates. Whilst many have pledged their support, some have been bitterly disappointed and confused as to why the theatre could not offer a virtual screening of the show; a viable alternative that has been successfully implemented by other theatre’s in the North-East, including Northern Stage and Live Theatre. The Theatre Royal have yet to comment on why they refrained from adopting this different approach. 

Seats for the rescheduled performances in April go on sale this week. To book your Easter treat online or for further information click here

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