“Best ever” Swanage Rep show finally goes ahead

A show described as ‘the best production’ ever by Swanage Rep finally makes its stage debut after a week’s delay caused by a contractor for the production, testing positive for Covid.

Rehearsals for The Princess and the Pauper, a new musical, were on schedule and had been going ‘incredibly well’ when the bombshell news broke.


Co-producer and composer Teresa Barlow said:

“It was devastating. Everybody was ready, everything was coming together nicely and then literally it went bang, there was this news, and suddenly the world fell apart.”

The Princess and the Pauper
Swanage Rep

The return of Swanage Rep was delayed by a Covid test

“Best production”

The theatre and production company took the difficult decision to postpone the show while staff isolated.

All the theatre staff and cast were tested for Covid and none of them were found to be positive. The actors were able to continue rehearsing in their ‘bubble’.

Matthew Haysom, chair of trustees of The Mowlem, said the performance is worth the wait:

“This is the best production that Swanage Rep has done to date, so it’s something that people should definitely come and see, not just as a great night out but also to show their support for theatre in the town.”

The Princess and the Pauper
Swanage Rep
The Princess and the Pauper
Swanage Rep

The theatre has put in place a range of safety measures, including a new ventilation system

Safety measures

A number of measures have been put in place to reassure audiences they are safe.

The capacity of the theatre has been reduced from 380 to 230. In the stalls, no social group will be sat next to another. Upstairs in the circle, as well as a gap between social groups, only every other row is being used.

The theatre has spent about £4,000 on a new fresh air exchange system, extracting air from the auditorium, and bringing in fresh air.

The Princess and the Pauper
Swanage Rep

The unique musical incorporates sign language

“Understand why some people may be nervous”

The show runs from Tuesday 24th until Saturday 28th August 2021 and Swanage theatre-lovers are invited to grab a ticket and enjoy the Rep’s return.

Matthew Haysom said:

“We really understand why some people may be nervous. We were nervous ourselves and because of that we have done our utmost to make it as safe as possible.”

The theatre is still encouraging people to wear masks and they still have social distancing in place in the auditorium.

The Princess and the Pauper
Swanage Rep
The Princess and the Pauper
Swanage Rep

The atmosphere among the cast is described as ‘euphoric’ as they finally get to take to the stage

“Safer than it’s ever been”

Matthew added:

“A lot of Swanage residents during August tend to avoid the town centre and this year with a bigger influx of holidaymakers, it has made some people nervous to come out.

“But what I would say is, we have got this place safer than it’s ever been from a point of view of germ and infection control.

“As well as the new fresh air system, everything is regularly sanitised within an inch of its life. People can be confident that it is safe as possible to come and watch the production.”

The Princess and the Pauper
Swanage Rep
The Princess and the Pauper
Swanage Rep

Theatre says it is ‘safe’ for even nervous theatre-goers

“Sitting in my coat”

Composer Teresa Barlow said she could vouch for the effectiveness of the fresh air system. She said:

“The auditorium is so well ventilated I’m sitting during the tech rehearsal in my coat!”

Even then, the rehearsal was not without its hitches, Katherine Mount co-producer and show deviser, was unable to attend because she broke down in her campervan on the way down.

The Princess and the Pauper
Swanage Rep

Actors prepare for the delayed show

“Everyone here is euphoric”

But Teresa maintained the stage was set for a great opening night:

“Everyone here is euphoric; they are just so excited to finally be able to put this thing on.

“The people of Swanage are always incredible. Everyone is so supportive. It always feels like coming home.”

The Mowlem theatre

Book tickets

The show must go on! Tickets can be booked via The Mowlem box office, which is open Monday to Saturday 10.30 am to 1.30 pm, by phoning 0333 666 3366 or via its website

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