Harrogate’s pantomime will be back this year — and the chief executive of Harrogate Theatre hopes crowds will return in number this festive season.
The theatre’s annual pantomime is a local institution, attracting hundreds of people each day ready to scream, “It’s behind you!”.
In just three months the roof work should be complete, new carpets fitted and a cast of actors will be ready to take to the stage on the opening night of Cinderella.
The panto will run from November 24 to January 16 and theatre chief executive David Bown said ticket sales were going well. He hopes to fill as many of the 500 seats as possible each day.
Local people will be pleased to hear panto favourite Tim Stedman will be returning this year along with three other principals and two understudies.
But after a difficult 18 months, Mr Bown is nervous restrictions could change again:
“I’m concerned that there will be reluctance to come back, people may not want to come out in winter. It’s a huge cash cow for us that if that doesn’t deliver it jeopardises lots of other things.
“This theatre has a magic atmosphere so I can’t wait to have an audience in here again.”
A major £1 million roof restoration is ongoing but Mr Bown has been assured the builders are on track for a completion date in November.
The theatre will also be applying for the new government-backed insurance scheme to use as a fall back in case it does have to cancel shows.
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The theatre will be asking visitors to show their vaccine record, negative test result or give verbal assurances they do not have any covid symptoms. Mr Bown added:
“It is to reassure the audience we’re doing something to try to keep them as safe as possible. But of course if people still aren’t comfortable I would advise them not to come.”