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The show will go on at the city’s Key Theatre this Christmas

05 October 2023

Pantomime season at the Key Theatre is expected to go ahead as planned this year with work set to begin next week to ensure the auditorium can re-open as quickly as possible.

The city council announced last month that RAAC (reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete) had been found in the Key Theatre as well as the Regional Fitness and Swimming Centre. As a result, the auditorium at the theatre and the entire fitness and swimming centre had to close immediately in the interests of public safety.

Knowing that time is of the essence for the theatre, with it being just over 8 weeks until the curtain comes up on the venue’s pantomime season, the council has been working with Landmark Theatres and its contractors to design and cost a temporary solution which will allow the theatre to reopen as quickly as possible.

The structure will be built on the interior of the main auditorium to ensure the safety of the public, staff and visiting companies. The council will continue to agree on a timeframe for full roof replacement that will be scheduled at a time that will minimise the impact on the theatre’s schedule.

Other buildings and venues across the country have also used similar interim measures to be able to reopen as quickly as possible.

Councillor Steve Allen, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Housing and Communities, said: “We know that many people were saddened at the prospect of the Key Theatre panto not being able to go ahead this year – understandably so, it is a highlight of the festive season.

“It is for this reason we have got on with the job of finding a way for the theatre to re-open as quickly as possible and it is fantastic news that this should be in time for the first panto performance on 2 December, meaning thousands of children and families who have already booked tickets will not be let down.

“We continue to work on a longer-term solution which is currently in the design phase.”

Works will commence on the temporary structure next week (week commencing 9 October) and the project is due to complete by the end of November.

The majority of the theatre’s programme has been rescheduled or moved to other spaces and all customers will be contacted in the coming days with further information.

The Chalkboard tearoom and bistro remains open throughout, as well as other spaces including the studio theatre, box office, offices, spires rooms and swan rooms.

Paul Jepson, CEO and Creative Director of Landmark Theatres, said: “We would like to thank everyone for their kind words of support during what has been a challenging month for the Key Theatre. This support demonstrates how much this venue means to our audiences, participants, and artistic community here in Peterborough.

“We are pleased that a solution has been found so quickly in order to minimise impact on our organisation but also to allow our much-loved pantomime to go ahead as planned. The Key Theatre celebrates its 50th Birthday on 23 November 2023. Keep an eye out on our socials for how you can get involved.”

The Key Theatre is planned to re-open on Saturday 2 December 2023 for the first performance of Aladdin. For further information about tickets please visit https://keytheatre-peterborough.com/event/aladdin/

A full structural survey is still being completed at the Regional Fitness and Swimming Centre. There will be a further update once the survey has been completed and the report has been considered.

In the meantime, Peterborough Lido remains open, allowing residents to enjoy heated outdoor swimming.