Stars of the West End were left looking like squashed, fat hobbits when a viewing of a hit musical went wrong at Ashford’s Cineworld cinema.
Pamela Welbourn, 68, attended the live screening of Billy Elliot the Musical on Sunday at Cineworld, on the Eureka leisure park, with her daughter and daughter-in-law.
Having previously seen the popular stage show in London, Mrs Welbourn, from Kennington, had high expectations and raved about it to her two companions.
However, she says the whole experience was ruined when the wide-screen effect left the performers looking like hobbits from the Lord of the Rings franchise.
She said: “As soon as the show began it was obvious that the screen had been stretched horizontally, which made all the actors appear as hobbits.
“The adult actors appeared about four feet tall with short fat legs, big bottoms and from a side view they had elongated faces and noses.
“It also did no favours for the young stars of the show, which was a pity.”
Mrs Welbourn says that others customers complained to staff during the screening – who said there was nothing that could be done – before walking out.
“Our enjoyment of the spectacle was ruined by the laughable state of the performers, which wasn’t their fault. It was just dreadful" - Pamela Welbourn
“We decided to stay,” she said. “But our enjoyment of the spectacle was ruined by the laughable state of the performers, which wasn’t their fault.
“It was just dreadful.
“I saw the show live in London in June and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. I had told my two companions how much I enjoyed it, but due to the effect of the stretching, it did not have the same impact on them.
“It was very disappointing.”
Mrs Welbourn and her daughter both complained to Cineworld following the screening. She adds: “I don’t want a refund, I simply want an explanation from Cineworld whether this was their mistake of something beyond their control.
“I find it impossible to believe that the Victoria Palace Theatre would show the stretched version to over 500 cinemas in the UK and the many more worldwide.”
Issues with the screening also prompted a complaint on the cinema’s Facebook page.
Linda Christie said: “So disappointed. Tried to watch the 2pm showing at Cineworld Ashford Kent and it was just a strip across the middle of the screen populated by distorted short wide people.
“Impossible to watch and the cinema said they were unable to do anything about it as it was being broadcast in that format.
“I just hope it wasn’t like that everywhere in the world. I had a two mile walk each way. I received a refund with many many others but that doesn’t compensate for the disappointment.”
A spokesperson for Cineworld said: “We are aware of an issue during the live screening of Billy Elliot the Musical on Sunday, September 28 in Ashford.
"Unfortunately this was due to a technical issue which we are investigating and our customer services team will respond to any complaints we receive about the screening on Sunday.”
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