Coronavirus: Norwich Theatre Royal boss reveals his sadness at having to cancel show

The Theatre Royal at Norwich. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

The Theatre Royal at Norwich. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2020

The boss of Norwich Theatre Royal has described his sadness at having to tell a restaurant full of people that last night’s performance of Les Miserables would not be going ahead following the government’s advice following the coronavirus outbreak.

Stephen Crocker, chief executive of Norwich Theatre, has announced all shows at the Theatre Royal Pl

Stephen Crocker, chief executive of Norwich Theatre, has announced all shows at the Theatre Royal Playhouse and Stage Two are cancelled until further notice Credit: Ella Wilkinson - Credit: Archant

The theatre cancelled Monday night’s performance after prime minister Boris Johnson called on people to “avoid pubs, clubs, theatres and other such social venues” and stop “non-essential contact” in a bid to slow the spread of Covid-19.

Stephen Crocker, chief executive of Norwich Theatre Royal, told Radio Norfolk during an interview that when the “general public heard that announcement that is also when the theatre sector heard that announcement so we’re not alone at the Theatre Royal in having to respond to this very quickly, to think on our feet. There’s no precedent in this for us”. He said last night’s show was cancelled but a further statement would be issued about future events at the theatre on Tuesday once they had sought further clarity over the situation.

He said: “I think we’re not alone in the sector here at Norwich Theatre in having to look at some scenario planning around this but I think the speed at which its been announced today is forcing us to work faster and not be able to manage customers expectations as we might so unfortunately our building had filled up with people already arriving for Monday night’s show. It’s not a great moment for me to have to go and disappoint them.”

In terms of how long might the theatre be able to survive if it had to be closed Mr Crocker said they had done some “scenario planning” but could not go into detail about that.

Nurse wearing respirator mask holding a positive blood test result for the new rapidly spreading Cor

Nurse wearing respirator mask holding a positive blood test result for the new rapidly spreading Coronavirus, originating in Wuhan, China. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto/Samara Heisz - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

But he said it was just a really sad time and described how he had to go into the restaurant, called people to attention, and tell them they were not going to see a show that they had been wanting to see for 12 to 14 months.


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He said: “That’s not something when you do the job I do that you’d ever want to do and its an indicator of the uncertain and unprecedented times in which we’re living and we do all, as a society, have to respond to this advice and act accordingly.”

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