MANY entertainment businesses in the arts sector have felt the effects of the pandemic and The Majestic Theatre in Darlington aims to recover with pantos.

With lockdowns and cancellations of shows, some audiences still appear hesitant about being back in a crowded venue.

The Majestic has a capacity of just 290 and for this reason the team behind the operation decided to scrap social distancing measures however guests are still of course welcome to wear face masks and hand sanitizer stations will be staying.

Entertainment and Events Director, Hayley Thompson said: “It’s been an awful time for the arts industry and we’re an independent theatre so we don’t receive help or funding.

“Loads of businesses like this were struggling before Covid so the pandemic has been awful.”

The Northern Echo: Inside the 290 seat Majestic Theatre on Bondgate, DarlingtonInside the 290 seat Majestic Theatre on Bondgate, Darlington

Read more: Darlington Arts Festival returns this weekend

The Darlington entertainment venue brands itself as the “little theatre with big ideas” and the team at the Majestic aims for the theatre to be a multi-purpose space and a replacement for Darlington Arts Centre which closed in 2012.

“We welcome anyone wanting to start a painting class or dance workshops. We have a great venue in the town centre and we want it to be seen as a hub for classes and events,” Hayley said.

As many entertainment venues closed during the pandemic, Hayley said there was a time last year when she thought she’d have to pull the plug on the business.

“So many other similar businesses were closing and there was a time where I thought we’d have to do the same. Thankfully we’ve got a great team of people and that didn’t have to happen but we got very close,” Hayley said.

Read more: 'Struggling' Darlington theatre urges people to see Halloween and Christmas pantos

As the country started to open up in a big way this summer, more people were attending theatre shows, festivals and gigs, however, Hayley said the Majestic along with many other arts venues will still be feeling the effects of Covid long into next year at least.

The Northern Echo: The cast of Dick Whittington in December 2020The cast of Dick Whittington in December 2020

“I think most people assume all theatres get funding but we’re independent. I think this makes us more relatable because we’re just like everyone else, we need to pay our bills even if we don't make the money.”

The Majestic is now preparing for its Halloween panto, The Wizard of Oz.

With an emphasis on using local talent, the Majestic’s in-house theatre company includes performing arts students from Darlington College.

Hayley said: “The pandemic has been so miserable so people need something to look forward to.”

There will be five performances of The Wizard of Oz on October 30 and 31.


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