Christmas panto cancelled due to tier three restrictions

Weston Playhouse in 2015.

Weston Playhouse in 2015. - Credit: Archant

Weston Playhouse, North Somerset Council and Parkwood Theatres have made the ‘heartbreaking’ decision to cancel this year’s panto due to the area being placed under tier three coronavirus restrictions.  

Jack and the Beanstalk Panto cast outside the Playhouse in 2013.

Jack and the Beanstalk Panto cast outside the Playhouse in 2013. - Credit: Archant

It comes as a blow to the theatre, which also missed out on a slice of the government’s £1.57billion Culture Fund earlier this year to help the business reopen. 

Under new government restrictions, which came into effect today (Wednesday), theatres are unable to open in tier three areas and all tier restrictions will be reviewed on December 16.  

Rates have fallen over recent days in North Somerset, which now stand at 179.5 per 100,000, compared to 210.6 per 100,000 reported on Thursday.  

The socially distanced Sleeping Beauty pantomime at Weston Playhouse has been cancelled due to tier 3 restrictions. 

The socially distanced Sleeping Beauty pantomime at Weston Playhouse has been cancelled due to tier 3 restrictions. - Credit: Archant

Playhouse manager, Mark Thompson, said despite a commitment and ambition to ensure the community could attend Weston’s annual pantomime this year, the uncertainty about when and if the theatre will be able to open in near future while restrictions are in place makes it ‘impossible’ to be able to move forward. 

He says the only option is to formally cancel the production with immediate effect and all ticket holders will be contacted or refunded across the next few working days. 

Mr Thompson said: “I’m absolutely heartbroken that we have been unable to deliver on our promise to give North Somerset a much-needed Christmas smile this year.  

Most Read

“The show was ready to go and would have been a guaranteed hit with all of those who planned to join us.

"This year has been incredibly difficult for the Playhouse and arguably the most challenging in our history as we’ve battled to navigate through this period of uncertainty in an ever-changing world. 

Cinderella at Weston Playhouse in 2019.

Cinderella at Weston Playhouse in 2019. - Credit: McPhersonPhotography

“The thought of Christmas without the Weston pantomime is unthinkable and our hearts and thoughts are with the whole community, our team and the cast and crew of Sleeping Beauty as we collectively face more hardship at a time which is so important to us all. 

“We will continue to fight on and look forward to a brighter day soon when we can welcome audiences back into our town’s home of live entertainment that is now ready and waiting for our community to once again engage in laughter, happiness and most importantly shared experiences.” 

The Playhouse is once again appealing to the community to assist it through this time by retaining the value of tickets as credits against future performances, or where possible making donations to the theatre to assist it. 

Cinderella at Weston Playhouse in 2019.

Cinderella at Weston Playhouse in 2019. - Credit: McPhersonPhotography

From January onwards, the Playhouse has a number of confirmed socially-distanced shows on sale, which it plans to go ahead with.

There is also a large number of household names which are being scheduled across 2021, such as hosting Sarah Millican, and tickets sold out in four hours on Friday.  

North Somerset Council has also agreed further funding to assist the Playhouse and ensure the entertainment venue will be ready to reopen as soon as possible. 

In addition, work is being carried out to the building, including the replacement of the auditorium roof by the council, worth £75,000, and adding more than 47 new radiators, which are being installed by Parkwood Theatres.  

The council and Parkwood Theatres are also working together to put in place a six-year contract extension for the management of the theatre, securing its long-term future in Weston. 

The council's executive member for leisure, culture and tourism, councillor Mike Solomon, said: “The Playhouse has always been and will continue to be an important part of Weston, integral both to the local community and further afield.  

“It’s sad that we will be without a pantomime this year but exciting going forward that the theatre, supported by the council, will continue with its new line-up of shows. 

“I urge people to continue with their valuable support of this wonderful asset. None of us could have foreseen this terrible pandemic and we are all suffering the consequences.” 

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter