The Coronavirus crisis has forced Bolton Octagon to drop its plans for a big summer reopening following its multi-million-pound rebuild.
Chief executive Roddy Gauld and artistic director Lotte Wakeham revealed in a private video message to members yesterday – publicly confirmed this morning – that the theatre will not open until late autumn due to construction delays caused by the outbreak.
“We are experiencing significant delays, partly because we are awaiting materials and items of equipment from all over the world,” explained Lotte Wakeham.
“This is disappointing for us all, but we promise we will be back – and when we throw open our doors, the Octagon will be bigger and better than ever before."
The building is now expected to reopen in November and the opening celebrations, including performances of One Night In Bolton – originally planned for July – will be rescheduled.
The first two productions of the season have been hit by the “very sad, but not unexpected” decision to put the opening back.
One Man, Two Guvnors has been moved to June and July 2021, thanks to special permission from playwright Richard Bean, but the production of Marvellous has had to be cancelled. Other events due to take place before November 19 will be rescheduled for next year, where possible.
"The rest of our season from November is not affected, and the festive production of A Christmas Carol will now be the first production in the new building," added Wakeham.
The Octagon’s box office team will contact members over the next few days with details about One Man, Two Guvnors and to discuss refunds or exchanges.
Wakeham added: “The impact of Covid-19 is devastating in so many ways. At what should be the most exciting time for your theatre, we are experiencing our biggest ever challenge as a registered charity and facing a loss of over £500,000.”
The theatre will also welcome donations and conversions of ticket money into gifts.
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