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Circus hails ‘heartwarming’ support on what would have been first show of summer season

PUBLISHED: 16:06 08 July 2020 | UPDATED: 16:06 08 July 2020

Peter Jay, owner of Great Yarmouth Hippodrome, is still in the dark about when and if he can open but has thanked circus fans for their heartening support. Picture: Nick Warner

Peter Jay, owner of Great Yarmouth Hippodrome, is still in the dark about when and if he can open but has thanked circus fans for their heartening support. Picture: Nick Warner

Archant

On the day Peter Jay would have lifted the curtain on his Summer Spectacular he was glued to the TV waiting for the next government update.

The Hippodrome Circus would have been back in the ring on Wednesday, July 8, wowing crowds had things gone to plan this year. Picture: GY HippodromeThe Hippodrome Circus would have been back in the ring on Wednesday, July 8, wowing crowds had things gone to plan this year. Picture: GY Hippodrome

The circus impresario, whose purpose-built venue in Great Yarmouth is world famous and a huge asset to the town, is still in the dark as to when, if, and how he can reopen.

Meanwhile he is busy processing refunds and issuing vouchers while preparations continue ahead of a hoped-for breakthrough.

With Covid-19 set to cast a long shadow over the entertainment industry whatever the outcome, he is still smiling and buoyed by support from well-wishers.

Wednesday would have seen the premiere of the latest 2020 offering, with acrobats and daredevil performers coming from all corners of the globe amazing audiences on the east coast.

Instead the auditorium, like all theatres showing live performances, is closed, and a tentative reopening put back to July 29.

“It is frightening,” Mr Jay said. “We are still in the dark, but the public have been fantastic. So many have sent such nice emails, and some of them have been coming for years.

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“It is heartwarming, everybody is really behind us. We are just keeping our options open. We would have opened from today, but have now pushed that back until July 29.

“We are getting everything ready and because we are a family running it we can move quickly.”

His comments came as clowns and performers delivered a letter to No 10 calling for the urgent reopening of venues after lockdown, amid warnings that tented circuses could go bust in just a few weeks if there was no help.

The Association of Circus Proprietors has said that performers have been reduced to using food banks to survive since circuses were shut down temporarily by Covid-19.

Mr Jay said the situation was critical for tented circuses that relied on Easter and summer shows, whereas the Hippodrome could at least look to Halloween and Christmas.

As purpose-built indoor theatres he said the Hippodrome and Blackpool Tower were both in a unique position in terms of seating and performances, with no live singing or a single audience facing forward.

On the plus side, he said being able to open his adventure golf in the former Windmill Theatre had been a boost with a good amount of footfall.


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