EMERGENCY repairs ensured the Christmas show could go on in the Bognor Regis theatre.
Damage to the Regis Centre caused by the recent stormy weather needed a day of work to enable its current panto, Robin Hood and the Babes in the Wood, to continue to delight its audiences.
The show in the centre’s Alexandra Theatre runs until today (January 5).
But the weather-related damage led to the two Christmas Eve performances of the popular panto being cancelled. Some 700 customers had to be turned away. They were offered seats at alternative shows or given refunds.
Hazel Latus, who chairs the Arun Arts charity which runs the seafront venue, said she was disappointed customers had been affected.
But she hoped they had managed to go along at another time to see the good traditional panto.
“Safety is our top priority,” she said. “You only have to see what happened at the Apollo in London – where a ceiling came down – to see how important it is for our customers, cast and staff that we take every precaution.”
The gale-force winds damaged one of the vents at the top of the fly tower on the centre’s roof during December 23. Wind-driven rain collected on the stage.
This was cleared before it could damage the set. But the forecasts of further rain on Christmas Eve meant the centre’s management team decided they had to cancel the day’s shows.
The only way to reach the damage, because no mechanical access was possible due to the height and reach, was to get up inside the tower.
A team of helpers and tradesmen from around the town worked hard all day with ladders, platforms and safety harnesses to make a secure temporary repair.
Arun Arts managing director Mike Stevens praised Peter Fitzpatrick, of Amberley Roofing, for going along at such short notice.
He said: “Peter and our two volunteers, Pat Dillon and Andy Wingate, approached the task from the viewpoint of how they could do it rather than not being able to do it. They showed decisiveness and bravery with commonsense and initiative to solve the problem.”
Mike also praised Gary Brennan, who runs a guttering firm, for reacting within an hour to fix two large sections of guttering which been torn from the building.
“This support was invaluable,” he added.