Norwich Theatre Royal panto postponed to 2021 as theatre 'unable to commit to production due to substantial up-front costs'
It is a traditional fixture of the festive season, but this year's Norwich Theatre Royal pantomime has been postponed to Christmas 2021.
The theatre announced this afternoon that its production of Dick Whittington & His Cat – which was set to be performed this year – has been pushed back to next year, as they are "no longer able to commit to such a large scale production because of its substantial up-front costs".
Stephen Crocker, Norwich Theatre chief executive said: "We know this will be a huge disappointment to our loyal pantomime audience who look forward to this traditional Christmas family treat and this is what saddens us most.
"The huge financial losses we are currently experiencing due to an extended period of closure, as well as there having been no government support package for theatres, mean that we are no longer able to commit to such a large scale production because of its substantial up-front costs.
"Covid-19 has made a huge dent in future sales for all shows at all of our venues including ticket sales for our pantomime which are significantly lower than usual.
"This makes the risk of staging the pantomime too great and it is clear from our audience surveys that the government’s early warning to avoid theatres and the prolonged wait for any re-opening plan has dented public confidence in returning to our venues."
Mr Crocker said their commitment to audiences – in particular at Christmas – is to deliver "magical and brilliant experiences", and they do not feel this would be possible in the current circumstances.
He added: "To proceed would do a disservice to our audiences who have been so loyal and supportive at this unprecedented time.
"We are planning to stage our new production of ‘Dick Whittington & His Cat’ for the Theatre Royal over Christmas 2021 and it promises to be our best panto ever.
"All current ticket holders will be contacted directly to transfer their tickets to an equivalent performance in 2021.
"Our Box Office team is currently working reduced hours and remotely so we politely ask bookers to refrain from contacting us by phone but wait to be contacted within the next few weeks."
Dick Whittington & His Cat was due to play at Norwich Theatre Royal from Tuesday, December 8 until Sunday, January 10.
The theatre said the new dates for Christmas 2021 will be announced shortly.