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Four of London's biggest pantomimes postponed until 2021 amid reopening uncertainty

Amy Johnson
Gemma Sutton as Aladdin, Clive Rowe as Widow Twankey and Tameka Empson as The Empress pose during a photocall for Hackney Empire's 20th Anniversary pantomime "Aladdin" at Hackney Empire on November 27, 2018 in London, England. (Photo by Tristan Fewings/Getty Images)
Gemma Sutton as Aladdin, Clive Rowe as Widow Twankey and Tameka Empson as The Empress pose during a photocall for Hackney Empire's 20th Anniversary pantomime "Aladdin" at Hackney Empire on November 27, 2018 in London, England. (Photo by Tristan Fewings/Getty Images)

Four of London's leading pantomimes have postponed their shows until 2021 due to uncertainty surrounding theatre reopenings.

Hackney Empire, Lyric Hammersmith Theatre, Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch and Theatre Royal Stratford East have announced they will not be producing their annual pantomimes this year as usual.

With production on the pantomimes originally scheduled to begin in August, theatres say they have had to postpone without a definite date from the government on when theatre performances can resume without social distancing.

Read more: Will mandatory face coverings in England bring audiences back to cinema?

At statement from the team at Hackney Empire, which was due to stage Jack and the Beanstalk later in 2020, shared the reasons for the cancellation.

"This is due to the continued uncertainty of government guidelines on public performances and the likelihood of continued social distancing restrictions which make staging a pantomime financially unviable, while not eliminating risk for audiences and artists alike,” they shared in a tweet.

Last year the four festive shows at Hackney Empire and the other three venues were attended by more than 145,000 people, including more than 40,500 schoolchildren.

Both Lyric Hammersmith Theatre and Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch were set to stage Aladdin, while Theatre Royal Stratford East was due to produce Little Red Riding Hood.

Four of London's leading pantos won't be taking place this year. (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)
Four of London's leading pantos won't be taking place this year. (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)

The four shows usually employ more than 285 freelance artists, including writers, directors, designers, actors, technicians and stage management.

It comes after other theatres around the country have announced cancellations, with last week seeing the Birmingham Hippodrome announce the postponement of their Christmas pantomime, Goldilocks and the Three Bears.

The chief executive of the venue said its decision to cancel the production was made to avoid a potential “death blow” to its finances.

With additional reporting by PA.