THE organisers of Helensburgh's Christmas pantomime say they will "sorely miss the experience" this year after announcing that the 2020 production will not take place.

The town will go without its annual showpiece for the first time in more than 60 years due to ongoing uncertainties caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Last year's performances of Aladdin were played out to packed crowds at the Victoria Halls, however Alison Holliman, chairman of Helensburgh Theatre Arts, the amateur dramatics group which produces the shows, said a repeat event was just not possible this year.

In a letter to members, she said: "Nina [Rapallini] and I have both been asked about what is happening with the pantomime this year and we have come to the difficult decision that, for the first time in over 60 years, we will not be putting on a full size production this year.

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"I am sure that this will be disappointing news to you, as it is to us.

"There are just so many questions about the venue opening, social distancing for the actors and audience and difficulties with singing that cannot be answered with any certainty at the moment and so it seems more sensible to defer this year’s production until next year.

"We are very aware that this will mean that Helensburgh will not get a pantomime this year and we hope that in October we might be in a position to think about inviting five or six adult members to produce an hour-long pantomime that could be performed twice in one day.

"This, of course, is wholly dependent on the Victoria Halls being open and allowing us to do it.

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"I am really sorry that Nina and I are having to do this.

"For me, being part of Helensburgh’s pantomime, whether on stage, directing or front of house, has always been something that I look forward to at the beginning of Christmas and, like you, I shall sorely miss this experience this year.

"We will keep you posted as the autumn comes and we hope that we have some kind of show to share with you."

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