Less than two weeks after announcing a stop-gap Christmas and winter season, Oldham Coliseum has become the latest victim of the country’s second lockdown.
The theatre has now closed until early 2021, meaning its stand-in Christmas show A Christmas Carol, as well as intended productions of Drowning, Petrichor, My Voice Was Heard But It Was Ignored and Julie Hesmondhalgh’s one-woman show Julie Likes To Draw Squirrels, will not go ahead, – though the theatre’s Christmas shows for schools, a Panto Storytelling tour and Panto Box virtual workshop, will go ahead.
Artistic director Chris Lawson said: “We do not know for certain whether theatres will be permitted to reopen on December 2, what the tier system will mean for the Coliseum or if, as reported, the national lockdown is extended beyond that date." A Christmas Carol was itself a replacement for the Coliseum’s famous but postponed pantomime: “To continue with this production would require significant financial investment that, if we had to cancel the show at a later date, would simply go to waste. This is not a risk the Coliseum is able to take.” The theatre has enjoyed a lot of support in recent weeks from a Crowdfunder campaign, #GetBehindUs that is now close to its £40,000 target.
Lawson continued: “We have been truly heartened by the support we have received and we will ensure that this money is utilised to help secure the future of our beloved theatre, so the Coliseum will still be here to support the people of Oldham for generations to come. “We are devastated not to be reopening this November, following months of preparations to make the Coliseum Covid-secure, and having been so excited to welcome our audiences back for a season of which we were truly proud,".
Ticket holders for A Christmas Carol will be contacted by box-office staff now again working from home.