Cinderella will not go to the ball in North Devon this Christmas following the postponement of the annual pantomime until 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Panto stars in teh 2019 Queen's Theatre production of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Picture: Adam TriggPanto stars in teh 2019 Queen's Theatre production of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Picture: Adam Trigg

Prime Pantomimes, a subsidiary of Selladoor Worldwide, which runs the Queen’s Theatre in Barnstaple and the Landmark in Ilfracombe announced on Monday, August 10 that its panto season would not be going ahead this year.

It means the scheduled production of Cinderella at the Queen’s Theatre for this December and January will now happen for Christmas 2021.

In a statement, Selladoor said this decision had been made following the recent government announcement that it will not be possible to clarify guidelines for indoor performances until November.

The Gazette reported at the end of July how the North Devon panto season was in jeopardy because there was no sign of when theatres might be able to open without social distancing, making productions non-viable. David Hutchinson, CEO of Selladoor Worldwide, said: “It is with huge disappointment that we have made the difficult decision to postpone our pantomime season for 2020 due to the ongoing Covid-19 crisis.

“At this time, without guidance on when theatres will be able to fully reopen – we can’t further risk the business.

“Instead we are focusing on reimagining our business plan and strategising for the future in order for us to weather the next stage of this crisis.”

The company, which operates the theatres on behalf of North Devon Council, has reopened the Quarterdeck Café at The Landmark in Ilfracombe for seven days a week.

Customers can take advantage of the government Eat Out to Help Out Scheme from Mondays to Wednesdays, which includes the café’s special afternoon teas every Tuesday.

The venue will also play host to an outdoor Summer Festival this month, with a programme of live performances between Thursday, August 27 and Monday, August 31.

Mr Hutchinson added: “We are exploring options for bridging this period with imaginative programming and engagement work to ensure we maintain the crucial connection between our audiences and artists with our café open and an outdoor festival planned for the Landmark in Ilfracombe along with localised fundraising campaigns.

“The postponement of pantomime means that now, more than ever, we need you to continue to support the arts and your local venues.”

The theatre asks that customers do not attempt to contact the box office as there are no staff on site at this time to facilitate calls.

All customers who had purchased or reserved pantomime tickets will be contacted directly with the option to transfer to the 2021 pantomime performances, add credit to their account, or obtain a full refund.

There is also the option to donate ticket money to the theatre to help with the upkeep during this challenging time.

Stuart Shanks – head of venues for Selladoor said: “The support we have had from our local communities throughout this crisis has been amazing and we hope you can continue this support into next year.

“All tickets for this year’s pantomime season are transferrable to 2021 and we would ask you to consider this option to help enable us to come back bigger and stronger.”