The first week of Liverpool Everyman's rock 'n' roll panto was cancelled pre-Christmas due to various delays and later lost another 15 performances due to cast and crew illness.
At sister theatre the Playhouse, injury and illness meant Fantastically Great Women Who Changed the World performed less than half its run.
Despite this, the two shows entertained over 25,000 people – around 60 per cent of its anticipated attendance.
The story was repeated at theatres across the country, as Covid restrictions closed shows at the first sight of cast or staff infection. If the closure came early enough, some shows were able to reopen before their official run came to an end; other have been able to add extra performances to make up what they have lost – and at least one, Hope Mill in Manchester, got permission from the rights holders to take its Christmas show online, but only to make up for those performances and ticket sales Covid had taken away.
The Playhouse has managed to salvage its Christmas show, Fantastically Great Women Who Changed the World, and will bring it back for another run from March 25–April 2.
For many theatres, including the Everyman and Playhouse, the VAT reduction and support from Arts Council England’s Culture Recovery Fund have eased the loss of ticket income.
The theatres' CEO, Mark Da Vanzo, explained, "Christmas shows underpin the rest of our programme through the year, so any loss is challenging. We’re grateful for the support and we couldn’t have delivered as many shows as we did without the hard work and dedication of our cast, crew and staff.
"Their flexibility to adapt to constant change and their good humour with it, demonstrated their resilience and dedication to ensure we could keep as many audiences as possible safe and entertained this Christmas."
Fantastically Great rerun info here