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Chelmsford Theatre panto cancelled after refurbishment delays

Jack And The Beanstalk Poster 2022

Chelmsford City Council has been forced to cancel Chelmsford Theatre's annual pantomime with a 'very heavy heart' after delays to the refurbishment of the theatre's public spaces.

Jack and the Beanstalk had been due to open on 2 December, but a series of hold ups caused by the global supply chain crisis and unexpected snags to the renovation have pushed back the theatre’s reopening until the new year.

Theatre revamp hit by snags and supply problems

The project, which will unify the front of house of the theatre’s two period buildings, has experienced a series of challenges over the past few months, including delays to obtaining key items and a longer than expected list of problems thrown up by the works.

The theatre team looked at different options to stage Jack and the Beanstalk at another council-run venue instead, but the council reluctantly decided that disruption to other services would be too great and the cost too high to take the production on the road.

Customers to be offered credit or refund

Customers with panto tickets will be contacted by the Chelmsford Theatre team by email with options to transfer their seats to next year’s pantomime or a full refund if they wish. Chelmsford City Council’s Deputy Leader, Cllr Marie Goldman, says giving people enough time to make alternative arrangements was a key factor in the timing of this announcement.

“We have been forced to make this decision with a very heavy heart indeed. We love our annual pantomime as much as our audiences do, and this isn’t what any of us wanted, or expected. But it wouldn’t have been right to hang on, hoping that things might change and potentially jeopardise people’s chances of finding tickets to another production this Christmas.

“When we started working on this project in 2021 we had no idea of the challenges this year would bring; of the global problems that would make materials so much harder to come by at almost every stage of the process and the effect this would have on a programme of works that in other years might comfortably have finished in plenty of time for our Christmas panto.

“Although you always expect some unknowns with the renovation of period buildings and had planned for this, we’ve also run into many more of these hitches than we were expecting. The theatre buildings, built in the 1960s and 1980s and altered in the decades between, have thrown up more surprises than we’d reckoned with. Although we have been able to deal with all of these extra issues, the resulting delays have reluctantly forced us to cancel this year’s panto.”

Cllr Marie Goldman, Deputy Leader, Chelmsford City Council

Jack and the Beanstalk to premiere in 2023

Jack and the Beanstalk will now run as the theatre’s annual pantomime in 2023, with performances starting on 1 December next year.

Although this disruption to the theatre’s 2022 production is painful, Cllr Goldman says a stronger and more viable theatre at the heart of Chelmsford’s cultural community will protect the city’s favourite panto in the future.

“Although losing this year’s pantomime is a real blow to all of us, this project is vital for the theatre’s commercial survival. The worn out front of house and the jaded 1960s and 1980s interiors had reached the end of their shelf life some time ago.

“Customers rightly want more, and it isn’t an overstatement to say that without this improvement, the theatre faced an uncertain future. We understand how disappointed many of you will be right now, but please bear with us. The improvements being made to our theatre will safeguard much-loved productions like our annual pantomime in the years to come.”

Cllr Marie Goldman, Deputy Leader, Chelmsford City Council

Theatre Box Office will process refunds

If you have a booking for Jack and the Beanstalk, please don’t call the theatre in the coming days. You’ll receive an email shortly and the Box Office team will be processing refunds and rescheduling tickets. They’ll be in touch as soon as they can to arrange this for you.

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Julie Weight
Julie Weight

Julie writes stories and creates videos for Chelmsford City Council. Contact her at julie.weight@chelmsford.gov.uk or on 01245 606984.