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Hunstanton theatre boss looks ahead to summer as tier four restrictions curtail pantomime

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The proprietor of a seaside theatre is looking at rescheduling his timetable of shows for the new year due to the ongoing coronavirus restrictions.

Brian Hallard of Hunstanton's Princess Theatre is planning a 'Great British Seaside Special' show in the summer in which music would be charted through the decades going right back to the Victoria era.

With this year's Mother Goose pantomime being cut short by a week due to the tier four announcement for Norfolk, Mr Hallard is also looking ahead to next year's production of Aladdin.

Hunstanton Princess Theatre is currently closed due to tier four restrictions. Picture: Michael Fysh
Hunstanton Princess Theatre is currently closed due to tier four restrictions. Picture: Michael Fysh

Mr Hallard said he currently does not know if he is "coming or going" regarding the theatre's immediate future as the pandemic continues to have a significant impact on the entertainment industry.

He added: "We tried three pantomime shows on Christmas Eve after the government announcement. In the end only 20 people came to the third show. I wanted to finish with a high, not a low.

"The performers were upset enough. We have lost the second week of the pantomime but I am not sure about the outcome at the moment."

Mother Goose, Hunstanton Princess Theatre, December 19, 2020
Mother Goose, Hunstanton Princess Theatre, December 19, 2020

The pantomime was scheduled for two weeks, with some offering to donate their tickets for the cancelled performances to the theatre.

Despite the shows being curtailed, Mr Hallard said the feedback was overwhelmingly positive for Mother Goose.

He is waiting for tomorrow's tier review announcement by the government, but he is not expecting the theatre to be able to open up any time soon.

"I do not know how much the theatre will lose, that was what the grant was all about," Mr Hallard said in reference to the theatre receiving £82,819 from the government's Culture Recovery Fund in October.

He is considering moving the weekly shows currently scheduled for February to April or May instead.

Only the ghost light is turned on at the moment, but Mr Hallard is confident the full theatre lights will be able to shine brightly once again in the future.

He said: "We will be back bigger and better than before with different sound and light rigging. We are ready to go and the theatre will bounce back. There is no way it will close down.

"A lot of people live on their own in Hunstanton and it was their meeting point every Tuesday. We have 25 to 30 come down to watch a film every Tuesday and they are all missing out. The volunteers are missing it as well. It is the centre and heartbeat of the town."

Under tier four restrictions, entertainment venues such as theatres, concert halls, cinemas, museums and galleries are required to close in order to reduce social contact.

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