Scotland’s biggest pantomime has been rescheduled for next year in the wake of the pandemic.
The King’s Theatre’s Sleeping Beauty has been moved back to November 2021 due to the “uncertainty” surrounding ongoing coronavirus restrictions and social distancing measures.
The show has only not been performed three times in its 114-year history – with the last time being 1968.
Organisers Capital Theatres said the decision to postpone the Edinburgh show – which draws in 90,000 ticket holders each season – had been made with “great sadness and a huge feeling of disappointment”.
They said the postponement will result in a “massive loss” of £2.3 million for Capital Theatres’ annual income.
Customers who have already purchased tickets will have them automatically transferred to next year’s performance.
The hugely popular annual pantomime – which draws in crowds from across the UK – was due to run from 28 November 2020 until 17 January in 2021.
The fairytale show will now run from 27 November 2021 until Sunday 16 January 2022.
Starring Allan Stewart, Andy Gray, Grant Stott and Jordan Young, Sleeping Beauty was last performed as the King’s pantomime title in 1993.
It will be the last pantomime to be staged at the King’s before the theatre is refurbished in the summer of 2022.
Fiona Gibson, Chief Executive of Capital Theatres said: “The impact of the global pandemic has been devastating on all theatres, and it has become a reality that to keep everyone safe and the organisation secure, mounting a full-scale production without social distancing in the current cycle would be challenging.
“There are only three occasions in its 114 year history that a King’s panto has not taken place, the last time being 1968, so 2020 will be another landmark moment for all the wrong reasons! We know this will be as much of a blow to you, our fantastic and loyal audiences, as it is to both the cast who love bringing you such joy every year, and to our tremendous staff who love making it happen. For so many it is the cornerstone of their festive celebrations.
“I still remember to this day, at the age of eight, my parents taking my brother and I through to Edinburgh to visit relatives and as a festive treat we all went to the King’s to see Mother Goose, with Stanley Baxter at the helm – we were mesmerised, and that was the start of my long love affair with the theatre.
“Capital Theatres is Scotland’s largest theatre charity and the impact of this decision is devastating. The panto alone brings in nearly 30% of our income each year. Since we closed our doors on the 16 March we have had no source of trading income, have refunded millions of pounds in tickets and cancelled, rescheduled or postponed scores of performances. Without doubt the loss of the Kings Pantomime is our biggest blow to date.”
Michael Harrison, Managing Director of Qdos Entertainment said: “I was studying in Edinburgh when I saw the first ever pantomime Qdos produced at the King’s Theatre. I think I saw it four times because I just loved the genre and I knew that Allan was someone very special.
“As one of the longest running pantomimes in the country, and certainly one of the most popular it is incredibly difficult to step away from it this year and resign ourselves to a year without that wonderful atmosphere and love between the audience and performers on stage – that is pretty unique”
Panto dame Allan Stewart added: “I can’t imagine a Christmas without a Kings Panto. But in the words of the Terminator …. ‘We’ll be back’”
Capital Theatres said they were “hugely grateful” to the people who have been able to take gift vouchers or donate their tickets, as opposed to refunds.
Fiona Gibson added: “We truly believe that Capital Theatres can be a key part of the solution for Edinburgh getting back on its feet. Only by continuing to thrive can we help sustain the vitality of the arts, the cultural ecology, the economy and the wellbeing of the community in our wonderful city and surrounding areas.”
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