Four theatres, including Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch, cancel 2020 pantos
The news was announced in a joint statement by the four theatres
Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch has cancelled its 2020 pantomime, due to uncertainty over what guidelines will be in place following the coronavirus pandemic.
Three other London theatres have also said they will not hold productions this winter and will instead postpone the planned productions until 2021.
Panto season brings in a significant proportion of many theatres’ incomes each year, and also provides much more work for actors and crew members for a sustained period of time.
In a joint statement, Douglas Rintoul, the theatre’s artistic director, and Mathew Russell, executive director, said: “Whilst we’re excited that audiences will still get to see our latest pantomime Aladdin in 2021, fingers tightly crossed, we’re incredibly sad that this is the first time since 1953 that Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch won’t be producing a pantomime.
“It’s the highlight of everyone’s year – for audiences of all ages and the team at the Theatre too – celebrating togetherness through a riot of silliness and spectacle. The experience is so important for huge numbers – for children enjoying the magic of their first theatre visit, those who go to the theatre once a year and our most loyal followers, who’ve been enjoying Hornchurch pantos for a long time.
“The impact on the charity’s finances will be pretty dreadful too, and we’ll be seeking and needing lots of extra support to get us through the rest of 2020 without it. In the meantime, we’re hopeful that they’ll (sic) be a different and smaller but still very special alternative festive offering, which bookers can read more about on our website.”
Robin Hood was the panto shown at Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch in 2019.
The three other theatres to have cancelled their pantos are Hackney Empire, Lyric Hammersmith Theatre, and Theatre Royal Stratford East.
The four theatres’ pantos were enjoyed by more than 145,000 people in the 2019 season.
That number included over 40,500 schoolchildren, many of whom would have been experiencing theatre for the first time.
Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch said: “These four pantos typically employ over 285 freelance artists, including writers, directors, designers, actors, technicians, stage management, and many more, demonstrating the financial impact panto has not only for a theatre but across the theatre industry.
“The production process for such a large-scale show as panto would have begun at the start of August. Without an announced date from the Government on when theatre performances can resume without social distancing, making doing a panto economically viable, these theatres have now had to take the hard decision to postpone to 2021.”
Any customers who have already booked tickets to pantomimes at any the four theatres will be contacted by the theatre.
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, Queen's Theatre