What is on at Norfolk theatres and cinemas from May 17?

Sheringham Little Theatre is one of the Norfolk venues reopening.

Sheringham Little Theatre is one of the Norfolk venues reopening as lockdown restrictions ease on May 17, pictured is theatre director Debbie Thompson. - Credit: Contributed

Curtains will go up across Norfolk on May 17 as theatres and cinemas get the go-ahead to reopen.

Under the latest stage in the government roadmap out of lockdown, indoor entertainment venues can welcome audiences back from Monday.

Social distancing restrictions will remain, with either a capacity of 1,000 people or half-full for indoors shows, whichever is lower, or 4,000 of half-full for outdoor performances.

Despite the limited audience numbers, the saying 'the show must go on' rings true for many venue bosses who have made the decision to reopen. 

This includes the Hippodrome Circus in Great Yarmouth, which is putting on its Pirates Live! show from May 28 to June 13.

Actors onstage at the Great Yarmouth hippodrome with a giant octopus behind them.

The Pirates show will have daily performances from Friday, May 28 until Sunday, June 13. - Credit: Street View Marketing

The Hippodrome Circus put on socially distanced performances in 2020, but had to cut short the Christmas Spectacular as the nation went into another lockdown. 

Jack Jay, whose family runs the circus, said: "We are super relieved and really excited to see everyone again.

"We know these milestones are important as if May 17 was delayed it isn't just right now as it would have a knock-on effect for summer.

"Fingers crossed our summer show will be at full capacity."

While it is not financially viable for larger venues such as Norwich Theatre Royal to reopen indoors at present, which has planned outdoor programme Interlude instead, for smaller venues it is not such a high risk.

New volunteers being briefed ahead of Sheringham Little Theatre reopening. 

New volunteers being briefed ahead of Sheringham Little Theatre reopening. - Credit: Contributed

Two such venues reopening in May are the Sheringham Little Theatre and St George's Theatre in Great Yarmouth.

The first show in Sheringham is The People's Cabaret on May 19, which is part of the Norfolk and Norwich Festival running from May 17 to May 30 in various venues.

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At St George's Theatre, it will be family show The Captain Calamity Adventures on May 22, which will take place outside on the plaza.  

Debbie Thompson, theatre director at both venues, said: "As a smaller venue it is so much easier for us to be flexible and adapt as we don't have huge overheads.

The People's Cabaret is part of the Norfolk and Norwich Festival 2021.

The People's Cabaret is part of the Norfolk and Norwich Festival 2021. - Credit: Contributed

"We have been rehearsing on Zoom, which is one of the positive things to come out of the pandemic, and in future it will stop us being quite so insular as it works really well until getting off-book."

Thanks to money from the government's Culture Recovery Fund, with both receiving over £100,000 each across two rounds of funding, there will be a focus on outdoor shows at both venues this summer. 

While theatres have been able to offer online performances and outreach activities, cinemas have been left firmly in the dark.

Staff of the Orion Cinema, including owner Lee Allwood (front), in 2019. Picture: Jessica Frank-Keye

Staff of the Orion Cinema, including owner Lee Allwood (front), in 2019. Picture: Jessica Frank-Keyes - Credit: Archant

The former Hollywood Cinema in Dereham became an Orion Cinema in February 2019 with new owner Lee Allwood, but after just a year it had to temporarily close due to the pandemic.

Even when he reopened the cinema late last year, it was a struggle to get customers back with major films being pulled from release.

Thankfully, it is a more positive picture ahead of the reopening on May 17.

Mr Allwood said: "The slate is starting to look more promising with Peter Rabbit 2, a great family film, and Nomadland that picked up a lot of Oscars.

"We are charging £5 per ticket for the foreseeable future to encourage people to come back." 

Online booking takes care of social distancing, blocking seats around groups, with masks required unless eating and drinking.

Things to look forward to in May as theatres and cinemas reopen:

George Don't Do That by Joyce Grenfell (performed by Loraine Metcalfe)

George Don't Do That by Joyce Grenfell (performed by Loraine Metcalfe) will be at the Sheringham Little Theatre and St George's Theatre in Great Yarmouth. - Credit: Contributed

THEATRES: 

Norfolk and Norwich Festival - running at various venues from May 17 to 30 - see the full programme at nnfestival.org.uk

Sheringham Little Theatre - The People's Cabaret on May 19, tickets at nn.festival.org.uk

May 22 to 23, film screenings: Out of Africa (May 25), West Side Story (May 27), Carousel (May 30), café opens from May 17 sheringhamlittletheatre.com

Great Yarmouth Hippodrome - Pirates Live! 2021, May 28 to June 13, hippodromecircus.co.uk

St George's Theatre, Great Yarmouth - The Captain Calamity Adventures, May 22, George Don't Do That by Joyce Grenfell (performed by Loraine Metcalfe), May 29 stgeorgestheatre.com

Gorleston Pavilion - Summer Showtime, May 28 to October 12 (every Tuesday, socially distanced until at least June 15), Pavilion Players: The Allergic Audience/A Quiet Life, May 21 to 22, Our Time, May 29, gorlestonpavilion.co.uk

Diss Corn Hall - The People's Cabaret, May 18, The Shackleton Trio, May 20 

Wells Maltings - Signal Fires - Stories from the East - The Rekindling, May 28 and 29, wellsmaltings.org.uk

Cinema City, Norwich.

Cinema City in Norwich will reopen on May 19. - Credit: Archant

CINEMAS REOPENING ON MAY 17:

Orion Cinema, Dereham 

The Light Cinema, Thetford 

The Arc Cinema, Great Yarmouth 

Central Cinema, Fakenham

Vue Cinema, Norwich

Odeon, Norwich 

Cinema City, Norwich (From May 19) 

Regal Movieplex, Cromer 

Palace Cinema, Gorleston 

Majestic Cinema, King's Lynn 

Wells Maltings, Wells-next-the-Sea (From May 20)

Email louisa.baldwin@archant.co.uk to be added to the listings. 

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