Eastbourne panto backstage crew take to the stage due to covid-depleted cast

The pantomime in Eastbourne has continued to wow audiences despite cast members missing due to covid and some backstage crew members have even stepped in for some of the dance numbers.

Thursday, 6th January 2022, 1:14 pm
Updated Thursday, 6th January 2022, 3:47 pm

The pantomime in Eastbourne has continued to wow audiences despite cast members missing due to covid.

Sleeping Beauty, at the Devonshire Park Theatre, has been running since December 11 and closes on Sunday (January 9).

With rising covid cases and the omicron variant, a lot of productions up and down the country have suspended performances, including Aladdin at The Brighton Centre.

Eastbourne pantomime 2021/2022 SUS-220401-155144001

Of course the risk of continuing means cast members may have to isolate at the last minute.

This hasn’t stopped the Eastbourne panto though, with residents praising the cast and crew for powering through and continuing to entertain audiences.

Eastbourne Theatres confirmed there have been a total of nine cast changes during the run and no performances have had to be cancelled.

At times some members of the backstage crew helped out with the dance numbers.

Eastbourne pantomime. Photo from Eastbourne Theatres. SUS-220601-130343001

Councillor Robert Smart said, “Please give credit from me to the cast and production team of Sleeping Beauty for a wonderful civic performance last night (January 3) in spite of eight members of cast/production team being unavailable due to covid.”

Cllr Smart said the artistic director Chris Jordan had to stand in as the dame.

He said, “It was a sensational performance by a covid-depleted cast and crew.”

Resident Rosemary Austin-Cooper, who went to the pantomime on December 30, said six dancers were unavailable, backstage crew stepped in to improvise routines, and the character of the king had a last-minute replacement who had to read from the script.

She said, “I have to say what followed was probably the best pantomime I have ever seen! For two and a half glorious hours all the cares and concerns of the world where forgotten.

“It was slick, funny, well-paced with some well chosen tried and tested musical numbers from the past and present. Here I must mention Carl Greenwood and the musicians, so talented, especially the drummer.

“It really was superb and everyone involved should be congratulated. If you haven’t been yet, get yourself along, you’ll love it!”

A spokesperson for Eastbourne Theatres said not only have the cast been hit by last-minute changes, a number of backstage and production staff have had to isolate due to covid too.

Chris Jordan, pantomime director, writer and now dame, said, “It has been, at times, a herculean task to keep the show on the road but we’re so lucky that we’ve got an incredible team who all pull together and many friends in the industry who have dropped everything to come in and save the day!

“Everyone has worked so hard to ensure that the curtain can rise at each scheduled performance. Despite there being changes to the line-up the shows have been fantastic, with incredible support from the brilliant audiences. It’s certainly been a pantomime season to remember for years to come!

“Our wonderful company stage manager Rebecca Fielding has been holding it all together, overseeing the sudden changes to include additional rehearsals and altered shows, and the whole company and backstage crew, front of house and box office team have worked incredibly hard to make sure that the show will go on. My huge personal thanks to them all.”

Tickets to the last few performances can be booked by going to eastbournetheatres.co.uk or call 01323 412000.