AUDIENCES will soon be able to return to Southend theatres, with re-openings planned for the end of next month.

The opening date the Cliffs Pavilion has been revealed as July 31, with bosses hoping for a full capacity return.

The theatre, currently being used as a mass vaccination centre, will welcome comedian Jimmy Carr to the stage the day after, in the first performance in well over a year.

August will then see 20 performers, including singer Jane Mcdonald and DJ Tony Blackburn, take to the stage.

The Palace theatre, on London Road, will open in the second or third week of September.


Carole Mulroney, councillor in charge of environment, culture, tourism and planning, said: “Whether it’s full capacity depends on whether restrictions are lifted.

“People may still be wary about sitting so close in large crowds.

“I’m really pleased they’re going to be re-opening after all this time, I’m delighted for the staff.”

Southend Theatres, which runs both venues, slammed the Government for delaying so-called Freedom Day on June 19 for a month.

Theatre bosses insisted going to the theatre was no more dangerous than going to the pub.

It’s now hoped the traditional Christmas pantomime will be able to go ahead.

Charles Mumford, former theatre director at the Cliffs, added: “The theatre industry has been a forgotten sector.

“Even coming out of lockdown, shows haven’t been able to go ahead because of the restrictions.

“You can’t make any money from running at 50 per cent capacity, it just can’t happen.

“It’s vital the theatre can open at full capacity.”

A Southend Council document, ahead of a meeting next week, reads: “The Cliffs Pavilion, having been successfully used as a vaccination centre, will re-open in August, with the Palace Theatre due to reopen in September.”

Southend singer Sam Duckworth, known as Get Cape Wear Cape Fly, added: “I’m pleased they’re open. As performers, we’ve all missed it.

“Over the past year, there hasn’t been an alternative to performing. The Cliffs has a great history in the town, and we should be proud of it.”