Stoke-on-Trent pantomime cancelled as city enters tier 3

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Image source, Regent Theatre
Image caption,
Baddeley Green-born Jonathan Wilkes was due to have played Robinson Crusoe

A pantomime due to have been staged in Stoke-on-Trent has been cancelled as the city moves into tier three.

The Regent Theatre's socially distanced production of Robinson Crusoe was unveiled last month before post-lockdown rules were known.

Tier three rules - the strictest measures available - mean all entertainment venues need to close.

Stoke-on-Trent has the highest Covid-19 rate in the West Midlands, and among the highest in England.

There were 362.4 new cases per 100,000 people in the week up to 27 November, the seventh highest rate in the country.

Star Jonathan Wilkes said it was "just so sad that we can't give a little bit of Christmas joy".

He said 7,000-8,000 tickets had been booked. Those people have been contacted with options, producers Qdos Entertainment said.

Robinson Crusoe was one of a number of pantomimes getting support from the National Lottery.

Image source, Regent Theatre
Image caption,
The Regent Theatre (archive image above) said it was "with great sadness" that it had taken the decision to cancel

Up to 700 people at a time would have seen the one-act production at the Regent, which usually seats 1,600.

Cinderella, which would have been staged from 11 December, had previously been postponed and rearranged for December 2021.

Mr Wilkes, who was set to make his 14th Regent Theatre pantomime appearance from 19 December, said the theatre had "worked so hard to get the venue Covid safe for families".

He added the production "might come back at some point".

The actor said: "It was never about going out there and... making money.

"It was more than anything just getting something done, giving some people a little bit of light relief from what has been a rubbish year really."

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