Theatre Vs Covid-19: Pantomime.
Where are we at now:
In our last Arts News Item in the Theatre vs Covid -19 series published on July 6th we looked at the financial support available to the industry in the light of the UK governments £1.57 Billion investment package. Sadly, and somewhat inevitably considering the lacklustre Tory Government hardly any further details of its allocation has been released and no one has seen one penny of the promised funding, a shameful display from a government that keeps proving it doesn’t care about the arts and those who work in it.
Qdos one of the countries biggest pantomime producers in the UK, which includes 4 productions in Scotland gave the government a deadline of August 3rd to give the information as to how Theatres can open safely without social distancing in order to make producing panto’s in the 2020/21 season financially viable. The Government true to form let the industry down spectacularly by saying there will be no further updates until at least November. Therefore, Qdos joins many other companies and theatres on postponing there shows into 2021/22 season. We round up as many as possible below, it makes for sad reading. Panto is for too many venues the lynch pin of the year and the money they bring in enables these venues to produce work the rest of the year. As much as it’s a British tradition it employee’s thousands of performers, technicians, writers, production teams, musicians not to mention theatre stuff both front of house and back stage. The decision to postpone or cancel pantomimes is not taken lightly and the real fight for our venues to survive is very much now in full force, and we must all do what we can to support the industry. It will survive but in what condition Is now in our hands, as one thing is clear we can’t rely or expected any more support from the government of the UK.
Starting in Aberdeen and His Majesty’s theatre, this years scheduled Beauty and the Best will move to 4th Dec 2021 – 9th Jan 2022, casting wasn’t announced for this years show, however casting for the new dates will announced in due course. The theatre confirms tickets will be valid for the rescheduled dates and refunds are available.
In Edinburgh at the beautiful King’s Theatre for the first time since 1968 the Kings will not have a pantomime on its stage, Sleeping Beauty staring Allan Stewart, Andy Gray, Grant Stott and Jordan Young moves to 27th November 2021 – 16th Jan 2022, tickets from this year will automatically transfer into the new dates and refunds are available. This will mark the final pantomime before the scheduled closure of the King’s for its major refurbishment.
In Glasgow, Qdos are Scheduled to Stage Cinderella at the King’s Theatre, planned to run Sat 28th Nov 2020 – Sun 3rd Jan 2021 starring returning team Elaine C Smith and Johnny Mac, the company are also scheduled to stage Aladdin staring Gary Tank Commander at the SEC Armadillo from 12th to 30th December, we are still awaiting official confirmation but its likely both shows will either be postponed or cancelled completely.
Elsewhere around the UK at the time of writing Qdos have postponed : Grand Opera House Belfast, Goldilocks and the Three Bears starring May McFettridge, Birmingham Hippodrome Goldilocks and the three Bears starring Jason Donovan and Matt Slack, The Alhambra Theatre Bradford Sleeping Beauty Starring Billy Pearce, Churchill Theatre Bromley Sleeping Beauty, The New Theatre Cardiff Aladdin starring Paul Chuckle, Gareth Gates, Gareth Thomas and Mike Doyle, The Lyceum Theatre Crewe Sleeping Beauty Starring Cannon and Ball, The Orchard Theatre Dartford Jack and The Beanstalk starring Christopher Biggins, White Rock Theatre Hastings Robin Hood, Beck Theatre Hayes Jack and the Beanstalk, The New Theatre Hull Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Royal and Derngate Northampton Dick Whittington, Theatre Royal Nottingham Robin Hood, the Mayflower Southampton Cinderella starring Craig Revel Horwood and Debbie McGee, Cliffs Pavilion Southend Cinderella, The Grand Theatre Swansea Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and the Wyvern Theatre Swindon Jack and the Beanstalk. There is no word on the Jewel in the Qdos Crown The London Palladium.
Imagine have seen almost there entire programme for 2020/21 postponed, Imagine take panto into some of the medium to smaller towns and the effects on those venue are nothing short of Catastrophic. The shows moving to 2021 are The Palace Theatre Kilmarnock Aladdin, the Civic Theatre Rotherham Aladdin, The Beacon Arts Centre Greenock Cinderella, The Hexagon Theatre Reading Beauty and The Beast, The Royal Spa Centre Leamington Aladdin, The Adam Smith Theatre Kirkcaldy this years Snow White is cancelled and will be Replaced with Cinderella in 2021, Fairfield Hall Croydon Beauty and The Beast, The Town House Falkirk Beauty and the Beast, The Grand Pavilion Porthcawl Aladdin, Victoria Theatre Halifax Jack and the Beanstalk and DeMonfort Hall Leicester Sleeping Beauty.
Its not just the big panto producers that have been effected, looking at Independent Theatres they are Similar effected, Starting with The Pavilion Theatre Glasgow, They were scheduled to produce Santa Clause is coming to town, the theatre have now confirmed that will go ahead a digital offering and they will return next year with Cinderella, its an odd choice as the venue last produced the show in 2018-19 so to come back to it so soon does leave you wondering will the script be as new as it should be? That said the previous production earned four stars let’s hope Grado and Stephen Purdon don the heels again.
The Brunton Theatre Musselburgh is well known for its Family and child friendly pantomime beloved by thousands from across East Lothian and beyond. This year the team were scheduled to produce Aladdin for the 2020/21 season, they too have moved the show into 2021/22.
Looking North to Eden Court Theatre Inverness, they work with Imagine Pantomimes and are scheduled to produce Cinderella, at the time of writing its still planning to go ahead with tickets on sale, but given the Imagine have so far postponed or cancelled 90% of there programme for this year, id hard to believe Eden Court can find a way to proceed. That said if they can, they will be one of the few.
2020 is a year that humanity will never forget, it has changed the face of the planet and taken a terrible cost and nothing can replace the vast number of those lost. Its also effected every industry across the board and theatre has especially felt its pain. Now Pantomime has fallen to the power of the virus its more important than ever when our theatres and venues to do reopen, and may outdoor venues already have that we support them as best when can. Also spare a though for the hundred of thousands of freelancers and creatives across the industry as it’s a very long road back.
For now the Ghost lights continue to burn brightly on far to many stages lets hope the curtains will rise safely as soon as is possible.