Lyric Hammersmith postpones panto

Four of the most popular pantomimes in London have announced their postponement to 2021.

Lyric Hammersmith Theatre, Hackney Theatre, Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch and Theatre Royal Stratford East) will not be producing their annual pantos this year, due to the continuing uncertainty caused by the coronavirus pandemic and the government’s guidelines on social distancing.

All four theatres have a long tradition of producing high quality and community driven pantos.

Last year their four pantos were enjoyed by over 145,000 people, including over 40,500 schoolchildren, many of whom would have been experiencing theatre for the first time.

Each panto is created uniquely for the theatre and its community working with some of the UK’s most talented artists and providing opportunities for new talent to make their professional debuts.

These four pantos typically employ over 285 freelance artists, including writers, directors, designers, actors, technicians, stage management and many more, demonstrating the financial impact panto has not only for a theatre, but across the industry as a whole.

The production process for such a large-scale show as panto would have begun at the start of August.

Without an announced date from the Government on when theatre performances can resume, without social distancing, doing a Panto wouldn’t be economically viable, the producers say.

As a result, these theatres have now had to take the hard decision to postpone to 2021.

‘Desperately sad’

Rachel O’Riordan and Sian Alexander, the Artistic Director and the Executive Director of Lyric Hammersmith Theatre, said:

‘We are desperately sad to be postponing the Lyric’s 2020 Panto Aladdin to 2021. It was a very hard decision but one we had to make to ensure the future of our theatre and manage the unprecedented levels of risk during this difficult and uncertain time.

‘We have a long history of Panto at the Lyric; our first was in 1897. It is a magical time of year for our theatre, the artists we work with and our community – we love seeing many generations of families coming together to experience the joy of Panto.

‘Economically Panto is massively important to the theatre industry, it is also for many their first experience of live theatre and for others the first opportunity to work professionally. We are incredibly proud of the talent that has come through our Panto Ensemble, which provides a pathway into our industry for many young people who go on to have incredible careers in theatre.

‘We are committed to Panto being back in its rightful place on our stage in the heart of Hammersmith and delighting our audiences in 2021.’

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See also: Local theatres battle for survival

See also: Lyric theatre’s ‘letters from lockdown’