Kings Theatre in Southsea hosts open days as it coaxes customers back through its historic doors

THEATRE bosses are holding open days in a bid to coax customers back in through its doors.

By David George
Saturday, 22nd May 2021, 12:30 pm
Updated Saturday, 22nd May 2021, 12:49 pm

Shows at the Kings Theatre in Southsea will recommence in August, and in the run up to the Jack and The Beanstalk pantomime in December, there will be a period of 20 shows in 30 days.

Last year's pantomime was put on hold when lockdown restrictions were put in place – and plans for it to return this year were also cancelled.

But for now open days are being run to get people used to come back into the Albert Road venue.

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Open day at the Kings as they start to welcome guests back to the theatre on 21 May 2021 Pictured: Paul Woolfe at the Kings Theatre Picture: Habibur Rahman

They will be run twice a month until the theatre reopens and give visitors a tour of the building.

Visitors can learn about the city’s theatrical history, and get the chance to meet some of the team members.

Among the visitors on Friday was Julie Paice, 66 from Guildford, who had never been to the Kings Theatre before.

She said: ‘I’m really impressed by the the theatre – it’s a lovely old building and I would really like to see something here.

‘I enjoy watching plays and comedies, but the pantomime here sounds like it’s absolutely unmissable.’

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Social distancing measure mean when it reopens for shows fewer seats can be filled.

This means third party production firms are are concerned that they won’t be making a profit anytime soon.

The Kings is keeping to its plan of producing shows in-house so hopes to weather that storm.

It also means performers from Portsmouth and the surrounding area will have more chances to showcase their skills.

Chief executive Paul Woolfe said: ‘The biggest challenge for us hasn't been the day-to-day things, but more the uncertainty that has been constantly swirling.

'With social distancing measures the number of people we can have in the theatre at once shrinks from 1,000 to about 400 – that has a huge impact.

'While we can rely on our pantomime to be profitable, external producers are struggling to put their own shows on.'

Mr Woolfe added: ‘That final (pantomime) performance last year was very emotional, for audience and cast members alike.

‘There will be something for everyone when the shows start and we cannot wait to get back up and running.

‘Today's open day was wonderful, I can’t tell you how lovely it is to see people back inside the theatre again.

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