Published Tuesday, 17th October 2023

Today, Reigate & Banstead Borough Council confirms that its pantomime will be relocated to a Big Top tent whilst The Harlequin Theatre & Cinema remains closed for the time being.

A purpose-built tent,Text says Beauty and the Beast with image of the stars of the Harlequin Big Top Panto, with an image of a big top tent and contact details to book seats. to be erected in nearby Memorial Park, Redhill, will provide a comfortable, heated, and unique setting for performances due to take place between 8 and 31 December.

Cllr Biggs, Leader of the Council explains: “We know The Harlequin panto is a much-loved local tradition, and we didn’t want to disappoint our loyal theatre goers. So, the show will go on this festive season and we’re thrilled to be bringing Beauty and the Beast to the Big Top for a not-to-be-missed Christmas special. The event also helps raise money for the Mayor’s nominated charity – this year, the inspiring Lucy Rayner Foundation.  

“We hope that the many schools, community groups and families that make our panto part of their seasonal festivities will roll up to enjoy a classic fairy tale in a new and exciting venue. 

“We are of course disappointed that we are not able to re-open our theatre in time to host the pantomime, but Safety First must continue to be our top priority.”

The Harlequin Theatre & Cinema was closed with immediate effect on 26 September following the discovery of reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC). Although we know we have RAAC in the building, we now need to carry out more intrusive explorations to understand what work must happen before the theatre can welcome audiences back.

Whilst the theatre remains closed, the Harlequin team will also run a Pop-Up arts and cultural venue in The Belfry shopping centre, Redhill.

Cllr Biggs continues: “Hot on the heels of last week’s successful Harlequin Arts Takeover at The Harlequin Pop-Up, we’re delighted to announce that this temporary venue will continue to host many more fabulous events and activities.

“Although it’s unlikely that the Pop-Up will be able to accommodate all the theatre’s planned activities, we hope this cultural space, together with the panto at Memorial Park, will meet some of the needs of our community whilst we work hard to get the theatre open as quickly as we safely can.

“In the meantime, I would like to thank everyone - our customers, neighbours, production companies, and many of our community partners - for the support you’ve shown and for your patience and understanding. Finally, I hope anyone who hasn’t bought a ticket yet will show their support by booking and enjoying the show.”

Customers with booked tickets for performances or events will be contacted directly regarding cancelled events or changes of venue.

Further information

  • There will be 43 performances of Beauty and the Beast between 8 and 31 December. The temporary Big Top venue will more than match the capacity of The Harlequin Theatre, will be a heated, wheelchair accessible space, with suitable toilet provision nearby and other facilities.
  • All current bookings will be honoured with more tickets available to purchase online from Friday 20 October at by phoning the Box Office on 01737 276 500 or in person at The Harlequin Pop-Up in The Belfry shopping centre, Redhill. 
  • During the pantomime season, the Council will minimise noise and disruption to local residents. Much of the park, including the football pitch, playground and hard courts, will remain in use; the stage will point away from housing and towards the town centre shops to minimise noise. By powering the event directly from the park’s Pavilion Café, the Council will avoid the need for noisy generators, which are also less sustainable.
  • There will be overnight security at the new venue and festoon lighting in the park.
  • The Council is committed to returning the grassed area of Memorial Park, Redhill to its current condition and already has plans to seed the grass in the spring.