Criticism of plans to axe a popular children’s pantomime has come from across the community.
The current cast of Falkirk Youth Theatre has joined former members, along with those who have enjoyed the shows over the years to question the decision by Falkirk Community Trust.
Last week it was revealed this year’s panto which has a cast of around 100 seven to 18 year olds from across Falkirk district will be the last.
Instead in 2018 the trust will work with a professional company, Imagine Theatre, to run Cinderella in Falkirk Town Hall from December 6 till Christmas Eve in a total of 25 performances.
They even intend to start selling tickets, priced from £15, later this year.
But the move means that this year’s Youth Theatre production of Peter Pan will be the last panto after 47 years.
The popular Bairns’ Christmas performed by Falkirk Caledonia Choir, along with the Festival Chorus and Tryst orchestra will also have to find a new location next year.
Traditionally for the last 34 years it has held two performances in the Sunday close to Christmas but organisers have been told to look elsewhere for 2018.
The decision has been made in a bid to increase income for the community trust, which since 2011 has looked after leisure, sport and arts facilities on behalf of Falkirk Council.
As well as sports centres across the district, it runs libraries and facilities such as Callendar House, Bo’ness Hippodrome and town halls, including Falkirk.
It is understood that in explaining to event organisers why the changes must take place, the trust warned that without increasing its income then it may have to close some facilities.
It faced a backlash in 2015 when it announced plans to shut some venues in a bid to save money against a backdrop of reduced income from Falkirk Council.
Over 2000 people have already signed a petition urging the community trust to think again about ending the youth theatre show.
It was started on www.change.org by Samantha McKinlay from Bainsford.
The 18-year-old is a current member of Falkirk Youth Theatre and said: “The reason I started my petition is because I can see how unhappy all the cast members are with the Falkirk Community Trust’s decision to stop allowing FYT to produce the pantomime each year and instead have a professional company produce one.”
The panto was even broadcast on New Year’s Day by STV for several years.
Other critics of the move include Sandra Burnett who said: “This is a unique event in Falkirk over the festive season and it brings so much pleasure to young and old.”
While Jillian Mackay said: “Ridiculous that they are doing this. It was the highlight of the year for many years when I took my grandmother and my mum to children’s theatre, they loved seeing the kids.”
Falkirk Community Trust declined to comment on the petition or this week’s public reaction.