Holiday park's 'unforeseen' theatre closure unrelated to planning issues
PUBLISHED: 06:00 26 October 2019 | UPDATED: 13:15 26 October 2019
A holiday park embroiled in planning disputes has announced the unforeseen closure of its theatre - but says it will reopen bigger and better next year.
Stonham Barns said on Facebook that the AMP Theatre would be closed for the rest of 2019 and all customers who bought tickets for shows, including the Halloween 'Spooktacular' and Christmas pantomime, would be contacted.
Theatre and entertainment manager Robbie James said the announcement was made after Alex Morley of Alex Morley Productions, which ran the events, decided to part ways with Stonham Barns to return to his role as a clown for Russells International Circus.
However, Mr James said the departure was amicable and unrelated to recent planning problems of guests living on the site all year, in breach of regulations.
Stonham Barns was threatened with legal action earlier this year after it emerged caravans on site were being used as people's permanent homes. Park owner Alan Forward owner has been working with Mid Suffolk District Council to resolve the problems and claims to now be fully complying with regulations.
But the announcement earlier this month that the park's theatre would be closing "due to unforeseen circumstances" had sparked fresh concerns.
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People commenting on the post said it would leave many children "very disappointed" and criticised the decision.
Mr James, who was also involved with Alex Morley Productions, has assured visitors that the closure would be temporary to allow for improvements.
"We are having a big refurbishment, which is underway," he said. "There will be completely new decorations, with purpose made chandeliers and brand new lighting and sound systems."
The new venue is set to open as the Pavilion Theatre with shows booked from January 21 onwards, including tributes to Abba and Tommy Cooper, a murder mystery and more.
Mr James said Alex Morley Productions had enjoyed "amazing support" from audiences and acknowledged that people were sad to see the company leave. But he said it was "totally unrelated" to the reported planning issues.
"Alex felt his time and run its course," he said. "He wanted to go ahead with the panto show but after we had a meeting with Stonham Barns, they felt that if it's going to end it should be immediate."
Although the AMP Theatre shows have been cancelled, others, including the Christmas Craft Fair, Mrs B's Christmas Comedy Show and the annual fireworks display, will go ahead as planned.