‘We will be back’: Theatre’s vow after panto postponement
PUBLISHED: 10:33 31 August 2020 | UPDATED: 11:13 31 August 2020
A coastal theatre and producers of a popular Christmas pantomime have postponed its festive production until 2021.
The Marina Theatre in Lowestoft and Paul Holman Associates have taken the decision “with a heavy heart” as Cinderella will now be performed from December 2021.
It comes as the venue – which is attempting to raise £100,000 to recover from the impact of coronavirus – announced last week that 11 members of staff had been made redundant following the end of a staff consultation process, while 24 zero and variable hours staff were also given notice last month.
Pantomime producer Paul Holman said: “It is with great sadness that we have come to the conclusion that we have no other choice but to postpone this year’s production of Cinderella.
“With no further government guidance of social distancing expected until at least November, even if we were given the go-ahead at that time, it would sadly be too late to put together a production on the scale that we would want to present.
“First and foremost we want to make sure that our loyal audiences, cast, crew and theatre staff are all safe.
“But we will be back next year, bigger and better than ever before uniting family and friends once more with a long-awaited dose of fun, laughter and escapism.”
Marina Theatre chief executive Emma Butler Smith said: “Panto is our busiest time of year, it’s when we see our highest footfall and make a lot of our money – but more importantly, it’s the time when our building, our staff and all our extended Marina family really come to life.
“To go ahead with Cinderella at this time – under current social distancing restrictions – isn’t financially viable for us or the whole team behind the production.
“We want to make this production bigger and better than ever.
“For us that has to mean waiting a year and hopefully being able to don our glass slippers and send Cinderella to the ball free from current restrictions.”
Last year’s production of Snow White played to more than 12,200 people and accounted for about 10 per cent of the venue’s annual revenue.
The cancellation of this year’s pantomime will prove not only a major financial loss to the theatre but also a great loss to the local community who enjoy the panto as part of their annual Christmas traditions.
With The Marina launching a Survival Appeal in July to raise £100,000 to help the Theatre to re-open, Emma Butler Smith said: “We’ve been quite overwhelmed with the amount of support we’ve received from people so far.
“To know what this theatre means to people and to know that we have their backing as we keep fighting for our survival is a real boost for all of us working at the theatre.
“Losing Panto is a big blow – as it is for many regional theatres – so now more than ever we need your support.
“Please do whatever you can to help us, donate a fiver, £10, £20, start a fundraiser, or display a poster in your front window.
“If you feel strongly, as so many do, that the Marina needs to survive and bounce back strongly – this is time to show your support.”
There will be plenty to look forward to in the 2021 panto, with Lowestoft’s favourite Terry Gleed confirmed to return in the role of Buttons.
This will be Terry’s sixth panto with the Marina, and audiences can look forward to his customary wit and show-stealing slap-stick comedy.
Award-winning performing duo Lav and Lou will also return to Lowestoft in the role of the Ugly Sisters – bringing their fantastic costumes and acerbic tongues with them.
Paul Holman Associates have also confirmed that TV star John Lyons (A Touch of Frost) will join the cast in the role of Dandini.
Customers that have already purchased tickets to Cinderella for 2020, will be contacted by the Marina.
Customers will be given the option to hold their tickets for 2021 – at the current prices – or to either donate the cost of their tickets to the theatre, or claim a full refund.
Cinderella will now run from December 13, 2021 to January 2, 2022.
The venue asks that, while the theatre carries out this work, customers do not contact them directly as they are still operating a much reduced box office.
For more information on Survival Appeal visit www.marinatheatre.co.uk
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