THEATREGOERS across south Essex could see performances cancelled or rescheduled after June 21 even if the Government decides to ease restrictions as part of so-called “Freedom Day”.

Bosses at Basildon’s Towngate Theatre say it will not re-open on June 21 as it is being used as a Covid vaccine site.

They hope to welcome back audiences in September.

Bosses at Southend’s Palace Theatre and Cliffs Pavilion are keeping tight-lipped, but announced performances may face disruption after June 20.

It comes after impresario Andrew Lloyd Webber made a “passionate plea” regarding the possible reopening of theatres on June 21.

A message on the Southend Theatres website says: “Events at the Cliffs Pavilion and Palace Theatre, including the Dixon Studio, that were scheduled to take place before and including Sunday June 20 have been suspended.



“Some shows beyond this date may also be subject to suspension or rescheduling.

“The Cliffs Pavilion and Palace Theatre buildings and box offices are temporarily closed.”

Tina Phelps, 51, owner of the Tina Phelps Stage School, based in Southend, said she cannot understand why theatres wouldn’t re-open if the Government says they can.

She said: “The impact of this is massive. We were meant to have a show booked for the Towngate Theatre for July and we were due to pay a deposit but I couldn’t commit to it as I didn’t know what was happening.

“We have our costumes come over from France and it costs thousands. Everything has just gone up the wall.

“The children like the classes and exams but they just want to get back on that stage. To hold a show it takes such a lot of time and money and it’s heartbreaking for them to have to cancel it.

“Performing is also so important for the children’s social life and mental health too. I am really surprised our theatres will not be re-opening.

“I guess there’s no option with the Towngate if it’s being used for Covid vaccinations but I do not understand what’s going on with Southend.”

Southend actress Natasha Stone, 28, said keeping the theatres closed also denies fresh and new talent the chance to shine.

She said: “It’s a massive blow and Southend has become quite a culture hub.

“The Palace and Cliffs Pavilion are such big parts of that. I think it’s a real shame and I think if theatres can re-open they should do.

“It’s been so tough for people in the arts to get grants and we’ve had to jump through so many hoops. Actors need to be working constantly to develop their art and abilities and we’ve not been able to.”

Simon Scott Pearce, Towngate Theatre manager, said: “The Towngate is currently being used as a Covid Vaccination Centre and so there aren’t plans to reopen it as a theatre on June 21. Tickets are available on our website for shows starting from September, and we can’t wait to welcome back theatre-goers then.”