'I was genuinely worried' - Theatre director on reopening in Tier 2

Debbie Thompson, the theatre director for St George's Theatre in Great Yarmouth.

Debbie Thompson, the theatre director for St George's Theatre in Great Yarmouth. Picture: Nick Butcher. - Credit: Nick Butcher

A theatre director has been sharing the upsides and downsides of reopening under Tier 2 restrictions.

Debbie Thompson, director of St George's Theatre in Great Yarmouth, which reopens on Friday (December 4), said her initial reaction to the announcement was "mixed".

"I was surprised to be in Tier 2. I thought we'd be staying in Tier 1. It seemed odd that we went from a lower tier to a higher tier, especially after having been in lockdown, but we're delighted to still be able to open," she said. 

Debbie Thompson, the theatre director for St George's theatre in Great Yarmouth.

The "only headache" has been that audience members cannot mix indoors with people outside their bubbles, she added.

"We've spent the last few days ringing people who had booked a table, explaining they can only sit with people in their household bubble.

"The majority of people have been fine. Only some people have had to cancel.

"That's been the downside. The upside is at least we can do the show."

The theatre is staging two pantomimes in the run up to Christmas, a late-night panto for adults, called Rubbin Wood, opening on Friday (December 4), and the children's panto, Rapunzel, beginning on December 15.

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Rubbin Wood will run every weekend during December.

Ms Thompson said: "That is selling extremely well. It's a bit of a laugh, an escape from reality for a while."

The family panto will also be streamed live to schools across England on December 16, with a staggering 100,000 children having already signed up to watch the show.

"We're particularly pleased with that, since pantomime is often children's first engagement with theatre, so we're delighted that can happen," Ms Thompson said.

Debbie Thompson, who is director of Sheringham Little Theatre and Great Yarmouth's St George's Theat

- Credit: Archant

Before last week's announcement, the director had been "genuinely very worried" about the possibility of an extended lockdown. 

"The experience in March proved lockdown can go on and on. I was genuinely worried the panto wouldn't be able to happen and that would have been devastating," she said.

The theatre normally holds 250 people but under current restrictions there are places for 70 guests.

"The pantomime would normally run for a fortnight but this year we can only run for a week for financial reasons," Ms Thompson said.

For more information on the shows, visit the theatre's website or click the link here.