A Tale of Two Tiers

Three show posters for theatre royal plymouth

Shows at the Theatre Royal Plymouth this Christmas

As the Government announced the latest Tiers in England after the lockdown, theatres around the country had to re-consider their plans for Christmas theatre productions, particularly as regulations have tightened for both Tiers 2 and 3. Fiona Horan finds out more.

Good News

Theatre Royal Plymouth, in Tier 2 like much of the country, is opening again on Tuesday 8th December after closing its doors to the public over eight months ago in March. Following the success of their Culture Recovery Fund application, and thanks to an initiative from The National Lottery, the theatre is able to bring some much-needed theatrical Christmas sparkle to the West Country with a full socially distanced theatre programme. The Theatre Royal is the only theatre in the country offering not one, but THREE, socially distanced festive shows!

Not Such Good News

Meanwhile, news is not so good elsewhere. The announcement that Stoke-on-Trent would move to Tier 3 restrictions after the end of the English lockdown, requiring the closure of indoor entertainment venues, has caused the town’s Regent Theatre to cancel its socially distanced production of Robinson Crusoe. This is rather sad as the show was only announced in mid-November as a joint initiative with pantomime producers Qdos Productions. Existing customers will be contacted directly via email.

Frazer Hoyle, Theatre Director at the Regent Theatre said,

It is with great sadness that we have taken the decision to cancel this year’s socially distanced production of Robinson Crusoe. I am devastated for the theatre staff, panto cast and our wonderful audiences, but the pantomime will be back next year, bigger and better than ever before, uniting families and friends once again with a dose of festive fun, cheer and laughter.”

Cameras roll at the Curve

Leicester’s Curve Theatre has also announced the cancellation of their production of Sunset Boulevard in Concert, following the recent Government announcement that Leicester is now in Tier 3. However, in a first for Curve, the production will be performed by the company in the newly configured auditorium and filmed in HD for audiences to watch from the comfort of their own homes. Tickets for the filmed version will start from £20 and between Tuesday 22nd December and Saturday 9th January, there will be up to three different performance times daily. The streamed version will be available for audiences in the UK and all territories across the world, with the exception of North America. Tickets are on sale now and can be booked via the theatre’s website or by calling the Box Office. All current ticket holders will be contacted as soon as possible by Curve’s Box Office team, and will be eligible for either a full refund or an exchange for an ‘at home’ ticket. The cast will include Ria Jones as Norma Desmond and Danny Mac as Joe Gillis.

BRB Nutcracker no longer viable

Sadly the Birmingham Royal Ballet company has cancelled its version of The Nutcracker at Birmingham’s Repertory Theatre as performances are currently forbidden in a Tier 3 area. The company has also cancelled their performances of The Nutcracker at London’s Royal Albert Hall over Christmas. The company’s statement says:-

“The government restrictions from 2 December will limit public attendance at indoor events to 1,000 people which makes it financially impossible to stage a production of this scale. We had been determined to share The Nutcracker this year and had been investigating various options including a streamed performance, but the costs were just too great to make this a viable option.”

Most other Christmas shows at the Royal Albert Hall appear to be going ahead at present, as is the English National Ballet’s version of The Nutcracker at the London Coliseum.

Waiting to see …

Theatre productions cannot run in Tier 3 areas but some are postponing performances until 16th December, such as Nottingham Playhouse’s Cinderella. Other theatres are still considering whether they can go ahead, perhaps, after 16th December such as Newcastle Theatre Royal, The Lowry in Salford, Manchester Opera House and Blackpool Grand Theatre. As with so much this year, nothing can be guaranteed….

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