Disappointment as Shrewsbury's Theatre Severn panto cancelled

It may have been expected but that won't stop the disappointment for thousands of people after confirmation that Theatre Severn's annual pantomime is being postponed for 12 months.

This year’s pantomime at Theatre Severn, a favourite of families, has been cancelled due to uncertainty over lockdown rules
This year’s pantomime at Theatre Severn, a favourite of families, has been cancelled due to uncertainty over lockdown rules

The pantomime is a fixture in the Shropshire calendar and last year attracted more than 42,000 people over its run.

This year was supposed to see the pantomime's take on Beauty and the Beast, but the show, which was due to run from December 2 to January 10, has been pushed back to 2021 due to the pandemic.

David Jack, the venues and programme manager at Theatre Severn, said that the decision was ultimately made in response to the government announcement that it will not be possible, until November at the earliest, to clarify whether indoor performances can take place without social distancing.

The pantomime has been a huge hit with the public over the years and in 2018, Brad Fitt, pantomime dame, was recognised for his 500th performance at the theatre.

He said “We waited as long as we could and have made this decision with the heaviest hearts, because we know how much our audiences love their annual visit to see the pantomime here. However, the continued uncertainty around when we’ll be allowed to re-open the theatre at full capacity has left us with no choice.

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"Beauty and the Beast will now happen in 2021 and we intend to bring audiences a fantastic show, bigger and better than ever. We are exploring alternative plans for the forthcoming Christmas season and will share any news with our audiences when appropriate.”

Writer, director and producer of the Shrewsbury pantomime, Paul Hendy from Evolution Productions said: “The thought of Christmas without pantomime is incredibly upsetting. I’m a local lad and I love the Theatre Severn; I know our audiences are wonderful and I know they will understand this decision and be supportive of it.

"Will the Theatre Severn pantomime return? Oh yes it will!”

Legendary Dame Brad Fitt, the star of Theatre Severn pantomimes since 2011 also had a message for audiences, saying: “I'm devastated that my tenth pantomime in my beloved Shropshire has had to be postponed.

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"I know that Evolution Pantomimes and Theatre Severn have not taken this decision lightly but without further clarification from the government the uncertainty around restrictions gives them no choice. I shall miss you all of course but, we will be back. Love to you all.”

Lezley Picton, Shropshire Council cabinet member for culture, leisure, waste and communications, said: “I am obviously disappointed that the panto cannot go ahead and know that, like me, audiences will sympathise with the staff of both Theatre Severn and Evolution who had tried so hard to find a way for the show to go on but it was simply not possible. My traditional visit to the panto won’t happen this year but I’ll certainly be there in 2021.”

Theatre Severn said existing ticket-holders for Beauty and the Beast will be able to retain their preferred seats for next year.

A spokesman said: "Ticket-holders will be contacted by the venue in due course with further advice, and are asked to await direct updates regarding their booking before contacting the box office."

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