A POPULAR pantomime in Clacton will not go ahead this winter due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Jack and The Beanstalk was scheduled for the Princes Theatre this Christmas, but the "difficult decision" to postpone it was jointly made by the theatre and production company Anton Benson Productions last week.

It will instead take place at the theatre next year.

Alex Porter, Tendring Council's cabinet member for leisure and tourism, said pantomime has become a Christmas tradition for families from across the area at the Tendring Council-run theatre, but the health and wellbeing of audiences, cast, crew and everyone else involved has to come first.

“Here at the Princes Theatre we believe our annual pantomime is best experienced with a large audience, full of friends and families coming together to enjoy the performance, full of laughter, shouting and that all-important interaction with the actors on stage – and with current health restrictions, that would not be possible,” he said.

“It is also essential the cast and crew are able to work in close proximity with one another to produce the high quality performances our panto has become renowned for, and with too many uncertainties that we could deliver a production to the high standard our customers have come to expect, we feel we would be doing a disservice to our audiences to press ahead this year.

“As a result this feels like the only sensible option, but rest assured the pantomime will be back next year – and we will look to see if we can put something else on, of a different nature, as a Christmas attraction this year, restrictions permitting.”

Anton Benson Productions had been awarded a three-year contract for pantomimes, which began with last year’s Snow White.

The council has agreed to extend the contract, with Anton Benson Productions bringing three winter pantomimes from 2021 – giving the firm a fair opportunity to showcase its quality.

Anton Benson said: “We have been busy behind the scenes preparing the largest and most ambitious Christmas panto ever to be staged at the Princes Theatre for this Christmas.

“However, given the uncertainty surrounding Covid-19, we want to prioritise everyone’s health and safety.

“In conjunction with the Princes Theatre, we feel it best to postpone our plans until 2021 rather than delivering a compromised performance – we promise it will absolutely be worth the wait.”