Sir Matthew Bourne’s production of Nutcracker! at Sadler’s Wells Theatre has become the latest Christmas production to be postponed.
The choreographer’s dance company, New Adventures, announced that both the show’s 2020/2021 national tour and Christmas season had been pushed back by a year.
It cited “the inevitable knock-on effect” of the coronavirus pandemic and ongoing uncertainty over when indoor performances can resume without social distancing.
Venues including the Hackney Empire, Lyric Hammersmith and Birmingham Hippodrome have already axed or postponed their pantomimes over similar concerns.
Sir Matthew said the decision was “heartbreaking” for New Adventures, which he founded in 2002 and specialises in contemporary dance.
He added: “We love our loyal audiences throughout the UK and we feel a great sense of sadness that we will not get to perform for you on our annual tour at this time.
“This year would have seen our 18th consecutive Christmas season at Sadler’s Wells with our sparkling new production of Nutcracker!
“I know that there was great anticipation to see this beloved show back after nine years but, alas, we must wait another year for a return trip to Sweetieland!
“In the meantime, we look forward to shortly announcing a series of adventurous plans, both on and off stage, for 2021 and we live for the day when the curtain rises again on a New Adventures show.”
New Adventures group managing director Robert Noble and executive director Imogen Kinchin said: “This incredibly difficult decision has not been taken lightly.
“Since the start of lockdown back in March, we have been working extremely closely with both Sadler’s Wells and our family of national touring venues to do all we can to keep to the current timetable.
“However, the business model cannot operate with social distancing in place and, without clarification as to when social distancing will definitely be removed, and due to this lack of certainty, we have to make this decision at this time.”
Artistic director and chief executive of Sadler’s Wells Alistair Spalding said: “It is with great sadness that we announce today that our shows scheduled until January 2021 cannot go ahead as planned, including Matthew Bourne’s brilliant Nutcracker!
“Matthew Bourne and New Adventures have been delighting Sadler’s Wells audiences with their Christmas shows for 17 consecutive years, which have become one of the highlights of our annual programme.
“We have worked very closely with New Adventures and the other artists and companies in our programme to avoid this outcome; however, continuing uncertainty surrounding coronavirus restrictions has forced us to make this decision, with artist, audience and colleague safety at its core.
“Though we can’t share Nutcracker! with audiences this year, I’m very pleased to confirm that it will return to Sadler’s Wells for our 2021/22 Christmas season.”
Last week the chief executive of Birmingham Hippodrome, Fiona Allan, said the decision to cancel its Christmas pantomime was made to avoid a potential “death blow” to its finances.
Blackpool Grand Theatre also announced that it was cancelling its Christmas show, Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs.
– Sir Matthew Bourne’s Nutcracker! will now play at Sadler’s Wells from December 7 2021 to January 30 2022.