Worthing to have only one panto this year

The cast of The Wizard of Oz at last year's production in the Pavilion W37522H12
The cast of The Wizard of Oz at last year's production in the Pavilion W37522H12

AFTER a record-breaking season last year, Worthing Theatres will this Christmas break tradition by holding only one pantomime in the town.

The show at the Pavilion Theatre, previously announced as Beauty and the Beast, will be replaced with Santa Claus the Musical, which is being held from December 12 to January 5.

The Connaught will continue with tradition by hosting the pantomime Jack and the Beanstalk, from December 6 to January 4.

Paul Hammond has produced the pantomimes at the Pavilion for the last 16 years and said he was disappointed to have been told about the decision not to hold a pantomime at the Pavilion in an email from Worthing Theatres general manager Amanda O’Reilly.

However, Gemma Nethersole, spokeswoman for the theatres, said attempts had been made to organise a face-to-face meeting with Paul but he had not turned up.

Paul, who produces shows across the country, said: “It reminds me a bit of a football manager being sacked by text. I understand they want to do things differently but that’s not the way I would have handled it. It’s a bit like there’s a new manager and they want to sweep everything old out of the way. I just want to thank the people of Worthing and our supporters over the last 16 years. We worked very hard to keep these venues open.”

Last year, The Wizard of Oz at the Pavilion, featuring Mario Falcone from the reality TV programme The Only Way is Essex, was the highest-grossing and best attended pantomime in Worthing’s history.

Amanda O’Reilly added: “As the new general manager of Worthing Theatres, I have been tasked with raising the quality of the cultural offer in the town and not only was I disappointed by the quality of the pantomime at the Pavilion, but I feel there are more exciting productions which families in Worthing would greatly enjoy. We will soon be able to release information about this year’s Pavilion Christmas show and I can guarantee it will be magical.”

Speaking about the new plans, Gemma said: “We are having a spectacular festive production at the Pavilion this year and while the title is yet to be confirmed, we know there will be traditional Christmas characters and vibrant musical numbers which we think the whole family will enjoy.”