YEOVIL”s Octagon Theatre had one of the country’s best original, Covid-secure, no-interval pantomimes, Nurse Nellie Saves Panto. But even the intrepid Nurse Nellie could not withstand the imposition of Tier 3 restrictions, so the remaining performances have had to be postponed.
But all is not lost. There are plans to bring the hilarious show, about how Jill, Billy, Nurse Nellie and a good fairy defeat a wicked scientist’s plot to destroy panto, back for half-term, between Saturday 13th – Sunday 21st February 2021.
Meanwhile there is exciting news for theatre-goers in the region with a statement from South Somerset District Council on a potential £23 million investment for arts and entertainment.
A press release, just before Christmas, announced that on 7th January, South Somerset councillors will receive a report and will discuss whether to agree in principle the development of a substantial project to transform and improve the Octagon Theatre.
The project would include a fly tower and the construction of a circle that would increase seating capacity from 622 to 900. This would expand the range of productions that could attend the venue including touring plays and musicals. The improvements would include making the theatre fully accessible throughout, and adding two smaller spaces which could potentially be a cinema/studio and additional cinema. There would also be purpose built studios, an improved community Café Hub and separate restaurants.
If the councillors decide to agree in principle to progress the development, subject to a further report to the executive committee once the full financial implications including VAT are confirmed, it would enable the Octagon management to apply to other funders and reduce the amount required from the council.
The Octagon Theatre has been operating since 1974 and attracts audiences from across the region with a diverse programme from top comedians, classical music and opera to rock, folk music, variety, plays, ballet and the annual pantomime. The theatre is also the home to many local community groups. Last year 125,000 people bought a ticket for an event at the Octagon and thousands more took part in one of the weekly classes as part of the Octagon Academy participatory programme.