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Eden Court Theatre panto blow for Inverness and Highland audiences as Scottish Government restrictions persuade producers Imagine Theatre to cancel 'Cinderella'

By Alasdair Fraser

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Eden Court's Cinderella
Eden Court's Cinderella

The Highlands’ biggest Christmas panto is being cancelled after discussions on newly-announced Scottish Government Covid-19 restrictions.

Performances of Cinderella will cease from Boxing Day, leaving around 10,000 audience members disappointed.

The move, described as a “devastating blow” to theatre staff and the panto’s cast and crew, means the Christmas Eve evening show on Friday will be the final performance of the festive season.

Eden Court will remain open over the next three weeks, providing cinema and hospitality services in line with restrictions for indoor events.

After discussion with staff and Panto producers Imagine Theatre, though, the organisation made the decision to call a halt to the popular post-Christmas Day run of shows.

Eden Court is now beginning the process of contacting all customers who have panto tickets, offering them the option of transferring their booking to the 2022/23 Peter Pan show.

Alternatives include offering a credit note to the value of their booking, a full refund inclusive of booking fees, or the opportunity to donate their ticket price to Eden Court.

Bryan Beattie, interim CEO of Eden Court Theatre, said: “My heartfelt thanks go out to those audiences who have continued to support the theatre throughout these difficult times.

“I’m so sorry that thousands will now no longer have the opportunity to do so. This is clearly not how we wanted the panto to end.

“It's also a devastating blow for the cast and crew, and the staff of Eden Court, and we will do all we can to mitigate the blow for them, particularly at this time of year.

“Panto is so important for theatres – it is their economic lifeblood and, more importantly, for many people, it brings family and friends together and is where they first meet and fall in love with theatre.

eden court theatre
eden court theatre

“We are committed to ensuring the Highland community still has a place to come that is safe and welcoming throughout this difficult period, yet special time of year.

“I am delighted that we will continue to provide our cinema programme and café bar over the festivities, within the new guidelines.

“We will continue to follow government guidance with our enhanced cleaning regime, track and trace compliance, mask compliance and a warm welcome for those who wish to come to Eden Court.

“There will, of course, be a significant economic impact due to this latest guidance, not least of which on the many individuals who are employed directly by the theatre, our associates, or the many local businesses that supply us.

“We will, therefore, continue to work with the Scottish and UK Governments to seek ways that minimise this impact, and urge them to offer reassurance to the sector in this difficult time that the financial implications of this public health guidance be recognised and compensated accordingly.”

Steve Boden, managing director of Imagine Theatre, said: “We are devastated for everyone involved in this brilliant production and for those who will no longer be able to see the show.

“Since Cinderella opened on December 10, we have been able to perform to thousands of people and the response from audiences and critics alike has been phenomenal, such is the love and affection shown for pantomime in Inverness.

“The work it takes to get the pantomime on stage is immense, with preparation beginning more than a year in advance.

“We thank everyone who has been involved in that process and we look forward to working with Eden Court in the months ahead, and bringing Peter Pan to the Highlands next Christmas.”

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