Published: 13:00, 23 December 2020
| Updated: 13:06, 23 December 2020
Kent's biggest theatre will stream its pantomime online for free - after being forced to scrap the festive show at the venue by coronavirus restrictions.
The Marlowe Theatre in Canterbury had been due to host a run of Nurse Nellie Saves Panto, starting on December 11, after the venue shelved its full production of Jack and the Beanstalk earlier in the year.
But when the county was plunged into Tier 3 after the second national lockdown - forcing theatres to stay shut - the launch date was pushed back to December 19.
Following another delay and the imposition of Tier 4 rules, bosses have now announced that Nurse Nellie Saves Panto will be broadcast online instead.
Marlowe chief executive Deborah Shaw said: "Now that audiences can’t come out to see Nurse Nellie, we’re thrilled to be able to beam her into everyone’s living room instead.
"We hope that everyone enjoys the show and that it brings some much-needed cheer after what has been such a challenging year.
"It’s a fun-packed gem, full of familiar gags and routines, designed to tide us over until next year’s full-scale Jack and the Beanstalk.
"We’ve also got a host of brilliant shows lined up for next year and we look forward very much to welcoming audiences back.”
Filmed earlier this month in front of a small audience of staff, the original plan was to stream the show, which was co-produced by Evolution Productions, to care homes and shielding households.
This comes after experts predicted that Kent could remain in the toughest coronavirus banding well into the new year.
Marlowe bosses say the venue's festive pantomime is among the most successful in the country, usually seen by more than 90,000 people every year.
Paul Hendy of Evolution Productions added: "Christmas certainly wouldn’t be Christmas without The Marlowe’s pantomime.
"As you can imagine we were very disappointed when, at the last moment, we realised that audiences were not going to be able to experience Nurse Nellie Saves Panto live.
"However, we are thrilled to be streaming the show and we hope that audiences will watch it as a family and react as if they were in our theatre.”
The play stars Marlowe pantomime regular Ben Roddy, West End performer Chanice Alexander-Burnett and comedian Lloyd Hollett.
About 14,000 tickets have already been sold for the run of performances.
Audiences who have booked a seat for the production will be contacted by the theatre over the next few days to arrange a credit note or refund.
It will be available to view until Sunday, January 3.
To access the free stream, visit marlowetheatre.com/whats-on.