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Panto disappointment as Derby Assembly Room's show is cancelled

By Ashbourne News Telegraph  |  Posted: August 01, 2014

  • Last year's panto at Derby Assembly Rooms

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ASHBOURNE families have been left disappointed after this year’s pantomime, due to be held in Derby, has been cancelled.

The future of the show, Beauty and the Beast, had been in doubt since March when the Assembly Rooms closed after a huge blaze in its car park.

Now Derby City Council has revealed its search for another venue has failed.

A remarkable 995 people had already bought tickets for the show, while 6,420 had made reservations.

The 2012 pantomime, Peter Pan, attracted 49,000 people, to watch Britain’s Got Talent’s George Sampson as Peter Pan, and actor Larry Lamb as Captain Hook.

Last year’s show, Jack in the Beanstalk, saw X Factor star Marcus Collins playing Jack and Eastender Cheryl Fergison as Spirit of the Beans.

Councillor Alison Martin, cabinet member for leisure and culture, said the council had investigated several other venues in the city but none were suitable.

She said: “Unfortunately, at least for this year’s event, we have not been able to identify a solution which would meet our audience’s expectations and be logistically and financially viable.

“It is of course disappointing that we have not been able to stage the pantomime this year. However I’m confident that Christmas will go on in Derby.

“The city’s theatres and cinemas are set to present a myriad of festive treats for all the family to enjoy and the Market Place will be once again transformed by Derby Live into a winter wonderland with the ever-popular Derby Christmas Ice Rink and a Christmas Arts & Craft Fair.”

The pantomime had been held at the Assembly Rooms since 2003.

Derby Live, the city council’s entertainment arm, will now be contacting all customers who had already booked for Beauty and the Beast to offer them a full refund.

They will also be offered an alternative of moving their booking to see the Guildhall festive show Naughty Meg and the Christmas Elves or go skating on the city’s ice rink.

Those with reservations will also be contacted and asked if they want to move them to one of those two events.

The council was yesterday unable to say what the future held for the pantomime next year.

In April, the council announced the Assembly Rooms would be shut for at least 18 months while it considered whether to refurbish or replace the building.

At the height of the blaze, 75 firefighters and 16 engines were at the scene as flames 40ft high leapt into the skies.

It started in an air-conditioning unit in the plant room on top of the car park which contained the utilities for the site, including the Assembly Rooms itself.

The car park reopened in June.

Derby Theatre is also staging two Christmas productions this year, Hansel & Gretel and A Christmas Carol.

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