It has been confirmed that due to the ongoing pandemic the four theatres will not be producing their annual pantomimes.

Cinderella in 2019 at the Lyric Hammersmith. (c)Helen Maybanks

Due to the ongoing uncertainty surrounding when theatres might be able to safely reopen Hackney Empire, Lyric Hammersmith Theatre, Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch and Theatre Royal Stratford East have announced the postponement of their pantomimes until 2021.

Yamin Choudury, Artistic Director and Jo Hemmant, Executive Director, Hackney Empire said: “Firstly we want to thank everybody for their passionate and tireless support, particularly over the last five months, the donations and messages of love and encouragement we have received have given us the strength we need to keep pushing forward in increasingly punishing circumstances. It makes decisions like today’s even more difficult. Everyone involved in bringing our world-famous pantomime to Hackney is devastated, but we know that we have to make any decision necessary, however unimaginable a few months ago, to ensure that Hackney Empire can remain this incredible and singular sanctuary of creativity and togetherness for another 120 years and more.”

Rachel O’Riordan, Artistic Director and Sian Alexander, Executive Director, 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.”

Douglas Rintoul, Artistic Director and Mathew Russell, Executive Director, Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch said: “Whilst we’re excited that audiences will still get to see our latest pantomime Aladdin in 2021, fingers tightly crossed, we’re incredibly sad that this is the first time since 1953 that Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch won’t be producing a pantomime. It’s the highlight of everyone’s year – for audiences of all ages and the team at the Theatre too – celebrating togetherness through a riot of silliness and spectacle. The experience is so important for huge numbers – for children enjoying the magic of their first theatre visit, those who go to the theatre once a year and our most loyal followers, who’ve been enjoying Hornchurch pantos for a long time. The impact on the charity’s finances will be pretty dreadful too, and we’ll be seeking and needing lots of extra support to get us through the rest of 2020 without it. In the meantime, we’re hopeful that they’ll be a different and smaller but still very special alternative festive offering, which bookers can read more about on our website.”

Nadia Fall, Artistic Director and Eleanor Lang, Executive Director, Theatre Royal Stratford East said: “Panto has been part of the Stratford East Christmas since 1884 and so it’s with a heavy heart that we have to postpone Red Riding Hood. So many people tell us that the Stratford East panto is the first thing they saw as a child, and so many families come every year as their Christmas tradition, and each year over 11,000 school children come to our panto too. It’s also our biggest show; employing a wide range of freelancers, who may now have no work over the Christmas period. Panto means so much to our audiences, the artists and freelancers that put it together and to us as a building. Despite the disappointment for this year, we are determined that we will have a brilliant panto in the making by Carl Miller and Robert Hyman next year and we can’t wait to share Red Riding Hood with our audiences in 2021.”

Those who have booked tickets for this years pantos will be contacted by the theatre they have booked with moving their booking to the equivalent performance in 2021.

The new dates for each of the pantomimes are as follows:

Jack and the Beanstalk
Hackney Empire
Nov 2021 – Jan 2022 (dates will be confirmed shortly)

Aladdin
Lyric Hammersmith Theatre
13 Nov 2021 – 02 Jan 2022

Aladdin
Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch
25 Nov 2021 – 02 Jan 2022

Red Riding Hood
Theatre Royal Stratford East
20 Nov 2021 – 08 Jan 2022