'The show will go on' says excited South Shields theatre boss after lockdown road map revealed
An excited theatre boss has revealed that “the show will go on” in response to the Government’s provisional road map out of the ongoing coronavirus lockdown.
Ray Spencer, the executive director of The Customs House, in South Shields, said acts have already contacted the venue to book shows in anticipation of customers returning from as early as May 17.
The 440-capacity theatre is also planning to recruit more staff and is discussing the possibility of attracting a “name well known to the community” to appear on its eventual reopening night.
Responding to Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Monday road map, Mr Spencer said: “I am really excited that we can potentially start welcoming customers back in May and that the show can go on.
"You have to be cautious, of course, but let’s hope that the figures continue to come down, everyone stays safe, follows the rules and, if that’s the case, we should be able to open to 50% of our capacity from May 17.
"By the summer, or certainly by autumn at the latest, we should be at 100% capacity and that’s a great boost for our pantomime.”
Tickets for this year’s production of Rapunzel are expected to go on sale in April.
Mr Spencer added: “We have people buying tickets for next year’s pantomime when they leave this year’s pantomime.
"It is all about traditions and it is about families coming together on the same night from afar.
"People have been asking and asking and asking when they will be on sale and now we can hopefully give them an answer soon.”
Largely deprived of income since the pandemic’s outbreak last March, The Customs House, which is a charitable trust, has had to reduce staffing from 72 to 22 and survive on a vital £255,000 grant from the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund.
Mr Spencer said: “We are financially okay in supporting our 22 staff until May and then hopefully we can start generating income.
"We will need to increase staffing at some point and hopefully we can get the cinema running as well and all the community users and dancers back so that people can have their lives back again.”