Pitlochry Festival Theatre forced to rethink outdoor Christmas show due to new restrictions

One of Scotland’s leading theatres is to make a film from an outdoor Christmas show it has been forced to rethink due to the latest coronavirus restrictions.

Pitlochry Festival Theatre has been closed to the public since March. Picture: Julius Cardew

Theatre-goers from across Scotland were expected to attend The Magic of Christmas at Pitlochry Festival Theatre, in one of the few festive events which was due to go ahead over the next few weeks.

However the actors due to take part in the promenade-style show for socially-distanced audiences will instead be filming their performances due to Scotland’s strict new regulations on live events.

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And ticket-holders will only be able to visit the outdoor set of the show, which will be turned into a light installation walk, if they live in the Perth and Kinross area.

Tickets for The Magic of Christmas show in the ground of Pitlochry Festival Theatre went on sale in December.

The first event since March at the theatre, which was due to be staged entirely in its 11-acre grounds, has been thrown until turmoil by the latest coronavirus restrictions, which have seen Perth and Kinross placed in the second highest level, and made non-essential travel in and out of the area illegal.

A filmed version of the full production which was planned to be staged outdoors will be made available to ticket-holders for the run, which was due to be staged from 27 November-23 December, to watch at home.

It will also be screened at the MacRobert Arts Centre in Stirling next month and made available to schools across, Stirling, Perth and Kinross to screen in the run-up to Christmas.

An announcement on the theatre’s website states: “We understand that stories make the magic of this season special - so we’ve done everything we can to bring this world première Christmas tale to everyone.

“Due to the latest restrictions, we are unable to run any live performance but we have good news.

“We have worked to ensure we comply with all restrictions and can accommodate everyone in some way.

"We do so appreciate your support, for the theatre and in booking for The Magic of Christmas, as well as your patience while we have done everything in our power to make sure everyone has their Christmas cheer."

Elizabeth Newman, artistic director at Pitlochry Festival Theatre, who has written The Magic of Christmas with Russell Beard, said: “We’re passionate about bringing Christmas light, hope and joy to as many people as possible. By working with our sister theatre along the road, we are certain that we will reach even more audiences during the festive period.”

Julie Ellen, artistic director at the MacRobert Arts Centre, said: “Sharing experiences with the people we share our lives with is truly precious, especially during the festive season.

“The tier restrictions mean that we can’t have live performance here in 2020, so it is absolutely brilliant that there will be a unique edition of this fabulous festive adventure, in a big screen experience exclusive to Macrobert.”

The new restrictions recently forced Perth Theatre to abandon plans for a promenade style performance of its planned Christmas show - Oh Yes We Are! A Quest For Long Lost Light And Laughter – inside its building. It has announced plans for an interactive online live version instead.

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