Oh No They Didn’t: Operation Sleeping Beauty Helps Panto Season
Just when it looked as though Christmas might be cancelled for 2020, Operation Sleeping Beauty looks like it has come through in time to help Panto Season go ahead in the UK.
Operation Sleeping Beauty
The announcement of the campaign came in September, when Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden explained the National Lottery was funding the scheme in collaboration with Qdos Entertainment. Dowden stated:
“Our hope is to get some panto back on this Christmas, and despite the very challenging backdrop we are going to give it our best shot. We have already supported the sector with our £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund and I’m grateful to National Lottery players for helping to make this happen.”
What does this mean?
In the UK, the topic of Panto Season has been a huge talking point during the pandemic, as it brings in such a substantial proportion of earnings for theatres, and the prospect of losing this has posed very real problems to many.
At the current time of writing in October, there have now been 70 productions that are confirmed to go ahead as socially-distanced performances. While this could of course change with new information and changing government guidelines, we can assume that preparations are underway for the aforementioned productions.
The London Palladium
Andrew Lloyd Webber has been a consistent figure in the conversation, research and action on reopening theatres. After much speculation, LW Theatres finally broke the good news that a pantomime will be going ahead at the London Palladium.
Pantoland at The Palladium will run for three weeks from Saturday 12th December 2020 – Sunday 3rd January 2021, and is a celebration of “the very best of pantomime.” The show will include a compilation of content from pantos old and new, and promises to deliver musical theatre favourites and humour alike.
The cast will be led by Julian Clary, and includes Paul Zerdin, Nigel Havers, Gary Wilmot, Ashley Banjo & Diversity, Charlie Stemp, as well as Beverley Knight and Jac Yarrow.
LW Theatres have included extensive FAQ content on their website about the social distancing guidelines for shows, so that audience members are able to read up ahead of time. The information is extremely thorough, both on audience expectations and venue rules and conduct, and hopefully can put patrons minds at rest by ensuring and understanding of the experience.
Additionally, there is an audience guide available, as well as a YouTube video, which are rather nice touches.
Andrew Lloyd Webber said of the announcement:
“Christmas 2020 needs a pantomime, and this one at The London Palladium has never meant so much to our industry and our audiences. LW Theatres operates as a not-for-profit and we are delighted that The National Lottery’s support will enable Qdos Entertainment and Producer/Director Michael Harrison to stage this socially distanced production at The London Palladium, alongside many others across the nation.
By next Spring, our major productions across London’s beloved West End must – and will – be back. I sincerely hope that this pantomime brings a moment of much-needed festive cheer as we continue to fight for the revival of our wonderful and vital theatre industry.”