Twist and Pulse pictured at the Corn Exchange at last year's popular pantomime. Picture: Matthew Usher

King’s Lynn’s traditional family Christmas panto at the Corn Exchange has been cancelled for this year.

The decision announced today follows much discussion and with “huge disappointment” a spokesman for the Corn Exchange said.

Beauty and the Beast, due to start in December, has now been postponed until next year following discussions with producers Jordan Productions.

Current social distancing measures have been blamed for making the production impossible to stage and staff are in the process of contacting customers who had purchased tickets.

The call-off decision was left until the last moment as in July many venues countrywide, including Norwich’s Theatre Royal, announced the outbreak had put paid to their festive productions. 

West Norfolk Council leader Brian Long said: “The current guidance around COVID-19 means we have no choice but to postpone this year’s panto to next year.

“We left making the decision until the last possible moment, taking into account the lead times for rehearsals and promotion, but we have now reached the point where we have had to make this difficult, but necessary call.

“It is very disappointing as we know how much families enjoy this popular annual event at the Corn Exchange.  

“This year would have been even more special with the foyer refurbishment now complete. However, we have to put health and safety considerations first and do what we can to prevent the spread of coronavirus.”  

Neil Gromett, managing director at Alive West Norfolk, added: “We are of course hugely disappointed to postpone this year’s pantomime, it is a much-loved family tradition for Alive Corn Exchange and the people of West Norfolk. 

“We will be back next year to tell the tale of Beauty and the Beast and we are really looking forward to that. 

“In the meantime, we have the launch of our new state-of-the-art cinema coming up and we hope to have some exciting entertainment planned for over the festive season.

“We are looking forward to being able to open our doors again soon and welcome customers to our brand new cinema. We are also working on a programme of events to be held later in the year which will include comedy and dance as well as working with local businesses and organisations, collaborating together on events. 

“Our doors will be open and we will be here for our customers and the community, albeit in a different format to what we are used to.”

Chris Jordan, managing director of Jordan Productions, promised next year’s panto would be the most “magical, spectacular Lynn has ever seen”.