The Chronicle

The­atre looks at all options

EV­ERY EF­FORT MADE FOR PANTO TO GO ON

- By BAR­BARA HODGSON Re­porter bar­bara.hodgson@reach­plc.com @Bar­baraHodg­son5 Theatre · Theatre & Ballet · Arts · Robin Hood · South Shields

NEWS that the North East has been placed in the tight­est Tier 3 Covid-19 re­stric­tions has con­firmed the worst fears of a lead­ing the­atre pro­ducer who is call­ing on the Gov­ern­ment to let pan­tos go ahead this Christ­mas.

Michael Har­ri­son, the Wallsend­born boss of the world’s largest pan­tomime pro­ducer Qdos, is also the pro­ducer of the an­nual show at the The­atre Royal in New­cas­tle where the team has been hard at work on cre­at­ing a safe, so­cially dis­tanced pro­duc­tion of Robin Hood that is due to open a three-week run on De­cem­ber 19.

While the tier sys­tem is due to be re­viewed on De­cem­ber 16, Tier 3 means the clo­sure of the­atres de­spite the fact non-es­sen­tial shops and gyms can open and the The­atre Royal has said it is now re­view­ing its plans.

Michael, speak­ing be­fore Thurs­day’s tier an­nounce­ment, told how, in the event of the worst hap­pen­ing, he is lob­by­ing the Gov­ern­ment and urg­ing it to al­low the pan­tomime to still pro­ceed, with all its planned so­cial-dis­tanc­ing mea­sures, re­duced ca­pac­ity and bub­ble seat­ing in place, ask­ing “what can be safer than that?”.

The The­atre Royal has al­ready sold 17,000 tickets for Robin Hood while across the re­gion other the­atres – which have all suf­fered hugely dur­ing the pandemic lock­downs – have gone to sim­i­lar lengths

against the odds to cre­ate so­cially dis­tanced Christ­mas en­ter­tain­ment for fam­i­lies this year.

Among them, New­cas­tle’s Al­pha­betti The­atre and The Cus­toms House in South Shields had been due to launch their shows be­fore the De­cem­ber tier re­view date while other the­atres are in­stead fo­cus­ing on vir­tual per­for­mances.

In a mes­sage on its so­cial me­dia ac­count, The Cus­toms House said: “Please bear with us while we di­gest the im­pact of the new Tier 3 mea­sures on our lit­tle the­atre. We will have a full up­date for you shortly.”

Fol­low­ing Thurs­day’s news, the The­atre Royal is telling ticket-hold­ers that it is now re­view­ing its plans for Robin Hood.

It said: “We are con­sid­er­ing what the out­come of the Tier re­view in two weeks’ time might bring and ex­plor­ing all our options for the show.”

It is ask­ing peo­ple to be pa­tient in the mean­time. The the­atre has al­ready said that if per­for­mances are not al­lowed to go ahead due to Gov­ern­ment re­stric­tions, cus­tomers will be able to ei­ther trans­fer their tickets or have a credit note or full re­fund.

We are con­sid­er­ing what the out­come of the Tier re­view in two weeks’ time might bring The­atre Royal state­ment

 ??  ?? The The­atre Royal is hop­ing to stage its panto Robin Hood
The The­atre Royal is hop­ing to stage its panto Robin Hood

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