“The show will go on” says evicted Horncastle theatre group

The clear out has begun: Members of the the theatre company outside their home of the last 28 years
The clear out has begun: Members of the the theatre company outside their home of the last 28 years

A Horncastle theatre company, which fears it could be made homeless, has insisted: “The show will go on!”

Members of the popular Red Lion Theatre were stunned when they were given notice to quit their headquarters.

For the last 28 years, the theatre has been based in a building at the back of the Red Lion pub, which closed in 2013. Now owner RBNB intends to sell the site at an auction at the end of February.

A notice was served on the theatre company to leave the premises by February 10 – just two days after the end of their pantomime Cinderella,

The theatre has taken legal advice and is still hoping ELDC’s recent decision to register its Grade II listed premises as a ‘Community Asset’ could offer a potential lifeline.

However, theatre chairman Shirley Moffat admitted they faced an uncertain future.

She confirmed the theatre hoped to negotiate a deal with any potential new owners of the Red Lion.

Failing that, she said the theatre might have to consider moving to new premises.

She told the News: “We were aware something was happening regarding the owners.

“It’s seven months since they cut off the gas supply but we have still managed to put on plays.

“The notice to quit is more serious. We have taken legal advice and we are waiting to hear exactly what Community Asset status means.

“Until we hear back, it is difficult to say what will happen but we will fight to keep theatre alive in Horncastle, preferably at the Red Lion, but if not then somewhere else.”

Mrs Moffat said the theatre company would welcome talks with Lynne Booth of RBNB - a South Yorkshire based brewery

She added: “We would love to re-open a dialogue. We have invited her to come and talk to us and try and reach some sort of compromise.

“However, it doesn’t like that will happen. We understand all 31 of their pubs are up for sale so it doesn’t look very promising.

“Hopefully, any new owners might allow us to stay. That would be absolutely fantastic but who knows?”

Mrs Moffat said the theatre might have to appeal to the local community to help clear the premises after the final performance of Cinderella.

They could also need suitable premises to store a vast collection of equipment, furniture and costumes.

She explained: “Perhaps it is time to move somewhere else but I’m not certain there is anywhere suitable.”

The theatre is tremendously popular and has a thriving junior section which has more than 100 members.

Town and District Councillor Fiona Martin revealed she had spoken to ELDC officers about the theatre’s future.

She added: “I am sure I speak for everyone when I say we want to see the theatre continue. It is a valuable asset for the town.”

Cinderalla opens next Wednesday and six of the ten performances have sold out.

Mrs Moffat added: “The company hopes that if this has to be the last panto we perform at The Lion Theatre, it will also be our best.”

The News was unable to contact RBNB.