Snow White production comes to halt as new Covid rules ban gatherings above six

Panto bosses have axed their production of Snow White due to coronavirus rules moaning: “We’d have to have furloughed one of the dwarfs.’’

New government guidelines to combat Covid-19 dictate no more than six people can meet up.

That would have meant Snow White would have been a dwarf short.

It was the final straw for members of the Dunmow Pantomime Group near Braintree, Essex who have scrapped their traditional festive show for the first time in 50 years.

Vice-chairman Terry Nunn, 75, said the 50-strong theatrical team – which has been staging pantos for half a century – faced financial ruin if it decided to press ahead with this year’s production.

“It’s a sad decision we had to take and people are very upset about it,’’ he said. “But we really had no choice in the current situation.

“The social distancing restrictions make it very difficult for productions all over the country.

“You can hardly have Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs if only six people can meet up. “It’s a shame because it would have been a great joke which is what panto is all about.’’

The dwarfs could have claimed to have been exempt from the `six session’ rules as they would all have been working together. Larger groups can still gather on business.

But whenever they tried to socialise one would always have been left out.

Terry said the theatre group – which boasts members aged four to 84 – had been planning the production since March and the cast was ready to start rehearsals this month.

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But shifting social distancing rules meant they had no idea whether or not their schedule would be interrupted and if the show would be allowed to go on.

“We would also have had to restrict the size of the audience to such an extent it could have ruined us financially,’’ he said.

“It’s very sad but we have decided to postpone the panto until next year when hopefully things will be back to normal.’’

Panto dwarfs face a cold Christmas across Britain with most productions cancelled.

A spokesman for the Cardiff-based Oh So Small talent agency said most of its short stars were trying to land film roles instead.

“Most pantomimes have already been cancelled or are in the process of giving up,’’ she said.

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“I only know of two Christmas shows that are still going ahead and they are only small and running for a couple of weeks.

“It’s sad something so traditional will not be happening this year but there is nothing anyone can do about it.

“Most of our short actors are focussing on film work instead.’’

No10 has ordered officials in the culture department to save the theatre industry by December.

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden has named it Operation Sleeping Beauty.

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