The Christmas season usually sees many Devon theatres embracing the festive tradition of pantomine – often featuring top names.
But with the creative industries continuing to struggle during the pandemic, the future of this year’s Devon pantos remains unclear.
Exeter’s Northcott Theatre recently announced that due to the pandemic, its Autumn and Winter season will no longer go ahead – including their pantomine, Robin Hood – they said they will be in touch with customers who have already made bookings.
However, both the Princess Theatre, Torquay and the Exeter Corn Exchange, remain hopeful that their pantomimes may still go ahead this year.
Last year, the Exeter Corn Exchange staged Snow White – which gained them a nomination for an Exeter Living award – but the fate of this year’s Wizard of Oz production currently remains unclear.
When approached by Devon Live on July 8, a spokesperson for Exeter Corn Exchange, said: “It is still too early for this decision to be made. We would love to be able to stage the pantomime again this year.
“It has already been written and cast. We are in close contact with the production company who are equally as enthusiastic about doing this.
“However, a final decision cannot be taken until we know much more about how the coronavirus pandemic develops.
“Currently such performances are not permitted but we continue to monitor the situation and if it becomes possible for us to stage a pantomime – and we can do this in a safe way – then we will do so.”
Actor Daniel Page, offered his views on the struggles faced by UK theatres, and the uncertain future of pantos.
He said: “It’s devastating for the whole arts industry.
“Within theatre it’s not just what you see on stage, think at the end of a film or TV show and that huge list of credits with all the names rolling up on the screen – there is a huge list of people involved in a show on the stage as well.
“Without a theatre being able to operate at near full capacity theatres just can’t open.
“It’s not just an important time for theatres themselves, but the family as a whole, from kids to grandmothers and fathers -it’s members of whole generations who are able to enjoy and be involved – it’s not just Santa that makes Christmas.
“I know we have been trying everything we can at the Corn Exchange to bring something this Christmas, as we have versatile seating that can be socially distanced, so hopefully, fingers crossed, we can announce something as time goes on.”
On a Covid update on their website, Princess Theatre, Torquay, appear hopeful that this year’s planned production of Cinderella, may still take place.
They said: “Pantomimes are possible but a few venues and shows may not return and larger venues and tours are unlikely to re-appear before 2021 – though we have some hope for some panto.”
The Exeter Barnfield Theatre’s pantomine is scheduled to take place in the Autumn, they have been approached for updates on whether the show will still go ahead.