New Vic Theatre show Marvellous cut short by Covid-19

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Image source, Andrew Billington
Image caption,
The play has been running at the New Vic Theatre since March

A theatre production based on the life of a former Stoke City kit man has been cut short due to an outbreak of coronavirus.

Marvellous, adapted from the Bafta-winning BBC film, tells the story of former mascot Neil "Nello" Baldwin.

The New Vic Theatre in Newcastle-under-Lyme said it had "no option" but to cancel remaining performances of the play.

It apologised to ticket-holders and said the box office would be in touch.

It is not the first time the production was affected by Covid-19.

New Vic Artistic Director Theresa Heskins, who adapted the story alongside Mr Baldwin, last month said plans to bring it to the stage were delayed three times due to the pandemic.

Image source, Andrew Billington
Image caption,
Marvellous is based on the life of Neil Baldwin, Stoke City's former kit man

The theatre announced on Wednesday that performances scheduled until Friday night had to be cancelled, despite having a "robust understudy strategy".

On Thursday it issued a further statement saying "despite exploring all avenues" it had no option but to cancel the remaining performances on Saturday.

"Sadly, following the government and NHS guidance, it has proved impossible to bring this wonderful show to the stage for the last two performances," it said.

"We'd like to say thank you to everyone who has supported us on Marvellous. It's been a very special story to share."

As a young man Mr Baldwin, who has learning difficulties, had an unskilled job in the Staffordshire Potteries.

But when a circus came to town in the 1980s he joined up as "Nello the Clown" - a nickname that stuck.

A lifelong fan of Stoke City FC, he struck up a friendship with then-manager Lou Macari who gave him a job as kit man and mascot at the club.

Marvellous won three Baftas in 2015 including best single drama, and was also showered with prizes from the Royal Television Society, Broadcasting Press Guild and Monte Carlo TV Festival.

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