United Kingdom

Sir Matthew Bourne's Nutcracker! Christmas show is cancelled

Sir Matthew Bourne's production of Nutcracker! at Sadler's Wells Theatre has become the latest Christmas production to be postponed.

The choreographer's dance company, New Adventures, announced that both the show's 2020/2021 national tour and Christmas season had been pushed back by a year.

It cited 'the inevitable knock-on effect' of the coronavirus pandemic and ongoing uncertainty over when indoor performances can resume without social distancing. 

It comes after four of the biggest pantomimes in London will not go ahead this year also because of the uncertainty over when indoor performances can resume without social distancing.  

Sir Matthew Bourne's dance company, New Adventures, announced the national tour and Christmas season of Nutcracker!, due to play at Sadler's Wells, will be pushed back a year

Hackney Empire, Lyric Hammersmith Theatre, Queen's Theatre Hornchurch and Theatre Royal Stratford East all announced they will not be producing their annual pantomimes this year and will postpone until 2021.   

Sir Matthew said the decision was 'heartbreaking' for New Adventures, which he founded in 2002 and specialises in contemporary dance. 

He added: 'We love our loyal audiences throughout the UK and we feel a great sense of sadness that we will not get to perform for you on our annual tour at this time. 

'This year would have seen our 18th consecutive Christmas season at Sadler's Wells with our sparkling new production of Nutcracker!

'I know that there was great anticipation to see this beloved show back after nine years but alas we must wait another year for a return trip to Sweetieland!

It cited 'the inevitable knock-on effect' of the coronavirus pandemic and ongoing uncertainty over when indoor performances can resume without social distancing

Sir Matthew Bourne

Sir Matthew Bourne is an English choreographer working in contemporary dance and dance theatre. 

He was knighted in 2016 for his services to dance. 

Sir Matthew has received various awards for his choreography, including the Laurence Olivier Award, Tony Award and Drama Desk Award. 

He was the artistic director of his company Adventures in Motion Pictures (AMP) from 1987 to 2002. 

In 2002, he launched his latest company New Adventures. 

A revised version of Nutcracker! by Sir Matthew opened at Sadler's Wells in 2002. 

It returned the following year with the season selling out again.  

'In the meantime, we look forward to shortly announcing a series of adventurous plans, both on and off stage, for 2021 and we live for the day when the curtain rises again on a New Adventures show.' 

New Adventures group managing director Robert Noble and executive director Imogen Kinchin said: 'This incredibly difficult decision has not been taken lightly.

'Since the start of lockdown back in March, we have been working extremely closely with both Sadler's Wells and our family of national touring venues to do all we can to keep to the current timetable.

'However, the business model cannot operate with social distancing in place and, without clarification as to when social distancing will definitely be removed, and due to this lack of certainty, we have to make this decision at this time.' 

Artistic director and chief executive of Sadler's Wells Alistair Spalding said: 'It is with great sadness that we announce today that our shows scheduled until January 2021 cannot go ahead as planned, including Matthew Bourne's brilliant Nutcracker! 

'Matthew Bourne and New Adventures has been delighting Sadler's Wells audiences with their Christmas shows for 17 consecutive years, which have become one of the highlights of our annual programme. 

Sir Matthew said the decision was 'heartbreaking' for New Adventures, which he founded in 2002 and specialises in contemporary dance

'We have worked very closely with New Adventures and the other artists and companies in our programme to avoid this outcome.

'However, continuing uncertainty surrounding coronavirus restrictions has forced us to make this decision, with artist, audience and colleague safety at its core.

'Though we can't share Nutcracker! with audiences this year, I'm very pleased to confirm that it will return to Sadler's Wells for our 2021/22 Christmas season.' 

Sir Matthew Bourne's Nutcracker! will now play at Sadler's Wells from December 7, 2021, to January 20, 2022

Last week the chief executive of Birmingham Hippodrome, Fiona Allan, said the decision to cancel its Christmas pantomime was made to avoid a potential 'death blow' to its finances. 

Blackpool Grand Theatre also announced that it was cancelling its Christmas show, Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs. 

Last year, shows at Hackney Empire, Lyric Hammersmith Theatre, Queen's Theatre Hornchurch and Theatre Royal Stratford East were attended by 145,000 people, including more than 40,500 schoolchildren.  

Last year, shows at Hackney Empire, Lyric Hammersmith Theatre, Queen's Theatre Hornchurch and Theatre Royal Stratford East were attended by 145,000 (file photo of audience during finale of Sleeping Beauty at the Hackney Empire in December 2016)

They usually employ more than 285 freelance artists, including writers, directors, designers, actors, technicians and stage management, with production processes beginning at the start of August.  

The Government had initially said theatres could resume socially-distanced indoor shows in August, but on July 21, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said this could no longer happen. 

The theatres said on August 10 that without a new date from the Government on when theatre performances can resume without social distancing to make the productions economically viable, they will have to postpone.   

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