Peterborough panto season as usual, but it could be replaced by Christmas festival format

The festive theatre season in Peterborough could look very different - but not this year.

By Brad Barnes
Friday, 15th April 2022, 5:46 am
A scene from last year's panto at the Key Theatre. EMN-210212-222528009
A scene from last year's panto at the Key Theatre. EMN-210212-222528009

All options are being looked at now the Key Theatre and New Theatre are merged under the Selladoor Venues Peterborough umbrella.

“This year we will be running panto in both the theatres in a similar way to previous years (Dick Whittington at The Key, Sleeping Beauty at New Theatre), with different creative teams and slightly different approaches,” said David Hutchinson, CEO of Selladoor Venues Peterborough.

“Looking to the future, as to how the Christmas season works, my number one priority is that we use that season to engage the widest possible audience and we engage the widest possible first time attending audience, because we know historically that panto brings more people to the theatre every year than any other thing does. It is the biggest opportunity to talk to people who do not come usually into our buildings.”

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With that in mind he added: “ I like the idea of talking about ‘Christmas in Peterborough’ and working collaboratively across both buildings - and The Cresset which puts of a very good panto each year - and advocating a ‘come out and support entertainment and leisure and culture’ in this period, and it being or feeling more like a festival format.

“We have two theatres, one large, one small. and there should be a feeling of a festival has come to town. Whether that is a small show for the early years in the Key studio and a panto (at the Key) and maybe a large Christmas musical, we are just exploring how all that could work together.

“But there are other cities that do it very well and I think by moving two organisations in to one it allows us to think about how that curated season works and becomes less like three pantos competing against each other, even if behinds the scenes it isn’t how we treated it.”

Before the Christmas season, a new musical could give the Key Theatre “its moment” later this year.

David Hutchinson said he was hopeful there could be “quite a special event launch in the autumn”.

Spring and summer has been programmed and we are looking forward to delivering on that, but when you get to October, that is when we can start looking at how we can put some big exciting anchors into the season and continue to work with the groups, the producers, artists that are coming in and have done very loyally for a number of years,

“There should be an opportunity to create sense of something exciting happening in each season in the same way New Theatre will launch a pre-West End show or have a massive number of musicals come through,”