Theatre group cancels 2021 panto ending 54-year run

Fakenhams FADLOS are currently rehearsing for a Covid-secure presentation of Chicago this December.

FADLOS will not perform Aladdin this year after discussions between its committee found they were too many potential risks in widespread infections of coronavirus, - Credit: Archant

A market town’s theatre group has cancelled its long-running panto for this year due to fears over coronavirus.

Fakenham & District Light Operatic Society (FADLOS) will not perform Aladdin this year after discussions between its committee found there were too many potential risks in widespread infections of coronavirus, and the safeguarding of its cast and crew was its priority.

The group will hope to perform the show, which they had started rehearsals for, next year. They have been in touch with the licence holder who has given FADLOS an extension to 2022.

Cast of Jack and The Beanstalk. Picture: Adam Gooch

Cast of Jack and The Beanstalk. Picture: Adam Gooch - Credit: Archant

This will be the first time in 54 years the group will not perform a show for the town. Their production of Chicago went ahead in 2020.

It was a decision that Peter Blakeley, a committee member for FADLOS, and others did not take lightly.

“The trigger was I was going to the Fakenham gin and beer festival and they required everyone had a negative test in the 24 hours before the event,” he said.

“I flagged it to the committee and said we should take this into consideration.

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“I thought if people are doing that now, what will December look like?

“We sat around for two hours and thrashed it out.

"Sadly, the more stones you turned over the more problems we uncovered.”

Fakenham and District Light Operatic Society perform Grease. Picture: Archant

Fakenham and District Light Operatic Society perform Grease. Picture: Archant - Credit: Archant

He highlighted the cramped backstage area, with a crew and cast of around 50 people, which could have led to issues, along with the wide age range, from members from aged 6 up to 66.

“Frankly the chance of getting Covid between September and December were pretty high and with everyone in close proximity, we would have to isolate,” Mr Blakeley added.

“It is not only affecting the shows, but all the families as well, that could cause a problem and that is the last thing we want.

The cast preform a number from Chicago

Fakenham and District Light Operatic Society (FADLOS) presented Chicago at the town’s Community Centre. - Credit: FADLOS

“On balance, the chance of us being affected was far greater.

“Our committee has a principal duty of care to the cast, crew and audience.”

The company are now looking ahead to casting for their next production, Calendar Girls, which they were planning to host auditions for in January ready for it to be performed in May 2022.

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