Sarah Thorne Theatre cancels panto as site is closed due to Covid guidelines

Theatre founder Michael Wheatley-Ward with dog Jasper

The Sarah Thorne Theatre in Broadstairs has announced that plans for this year’s panto have been cancelled.

Kent County Council, which owns the adult education centre where the theatre is based, made the decision to close the entire complex due to the latest Covid-19 guidelines.

This means the theatre faces an uncertain duration of closure and, although bosses say they remain positive, the financial loss could impact on its future.

Michael Wheatley-Ward, who was formerly at the helm of the Theatre Royal, founded the Sarah Thorne Theatre which was incorporated as a community interest company in 2008.

Mr Wheatley-Ward said: “With a heavy heart we are devastated to announce that The Sarah Thorne Theatre’s annual pantomime season will not go ahead this year.

“Following the ongoing Governmental measures and guidelines, providing the community with a festive production of any quality was proving an increasingly hard achievement and less financially viable as time went on, although we had every intention of producing a socially distanced Pantomime this year.

“News in the week came a further blow. Due to the Governmental guidelines to combat Covid 19 KCC, the owners of the site of which we operate the Sarah Thorne Theatre, had to make the tough decision to close the entire complex of the Adult Education Centre which sadly means we too can no longer continue our operation at this time.

“In response to this unprecedented and devastating predicament we have found ourselves, we are simply forced to postpone the annual pantomime to next year along with all schedule shows until Spring 2021

“We take the opportunity of thanking the many people who have wished us well and sent cheer.

“We do hope The Sarah Thorne Theatre shall once again provide quality live theatre, however we must be realistic and transparent in the fact a forced closure for over a year may honestly not be a financially sustainable viability without any form of income or help.

“We will remain positive minded, we are already moving productions further into next year. We will promise to do everything practicable to raise the curtain once again.”