Kids in tears as pantomime cancels minutes before show due to Covid outbreak among cast

Kids burst into tears and parents became enraged when a pantomime of Beauty and the Beast over the weekend announced a cancellation while they were sitting in their seats – waiting for it to start

Kids were left in tears when a Christmas pantomime was cancelled minutes before it started due to Covid
Kids were left in tears when a Christmas pantomime was cancelled minutes before it started due to Covid

Children were left in tears when a Christmas pantomime was cancelled just minutes before it was due to start because of a Covid outbreak among the cast.

Audience members at The Central Theatre in Chatham were already in their seats waiting for Beauty and the Beast to begin when they were told the show was off due to an outbreak in the cast and crew.

The production team said it had no choice but to make the “devastating decision” after a swathe of positive tests between the matinee and evening performance.

The team have been doing Covid tests twice a day. Some had tested positive earlier in the day but the matinee show was still able to go ahead.

But further positive results in the afternoon meant the 6pm show had to be called off.

However some audience members were upset they had been allowed into the theatre and spent money on drinks, programmes and souvenirs.

People were sitting in their seats, ready for the show, when they were notified of the cancellation

Abbey Jordan had gone to the show with her two year old daughter Millie and family.

She said: “They made us all queue outside until 20 minutes before the show was meant to start.

“Once we was let in we was able to buy brochures, kids light up toys, drinks. Spend all of our money, let us all sit down and then decide to come on stage and tell us due to a Covid outbreak the show was cancelled.

Families were annoyed they were allowed into the Chatham theatre for the show to be called off

“They decided to let us all in there and spend our money first before telling us the show was cancelled.

“There was kids around me devastated and crying. People were booing. They should of told us before we went in and spend more of our money.”

One woman said: “I was horrified at the reaction of some of the audience. They were so disrespectful and ignorantly booed and heckled. Which I felt there was no need to do.”

People were offered refunds or tickets to next year’s panto. It is not yet known if further shows this year will be cancelled.

Tickets are still available to book on the website for future performances.

The panto team apologised after the incident

A social media statement from the pantomime team on said: “We have robust Covid protocols which include twice daily testing and these picked up a number of positive cases overnight and before this afternoon’s show.

“We were able to cover the onstage and backstage roles for the 2pm performance, however, during the hour between the matinee and evening performance further members of the company were taken ill and tested positive with the last being at 5.40pm.

“It was not possible to cover these roles at such short notice and still deliver the show safely for everyone.

“Our absolute priority is always the safety and health of our cast, crew and the audiences and therefore, having consulted with the venue management, it was evident that we had no choice but to cancel the evening’s performance and an onstage announcement was made as soon as possible following this decision.

“We are sorry that the decision was made at the very last minute however the situation changed very fast during the hour before the second show.

“We sincerely apologise for any inconvenience and disappointment caused. There are no shows scheduled on Monday and we are working hard to put plans in place to be able to confirm arrangements for further performances as soon as possible.

“Once we have more information our box office will contact you regarding your cancelled show booking.”

The show’s producer Tim Sitwell apologised and said everyone in the cast and crew would be getting a PCR test today (Monday) and they are doing everything they can to restart the show.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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