UP TO 50 theatre-goers were left disappointed after a visiting theatre company pulled the plug on a panto due to be staged at the Evron Centre with just a few hours' notice.
People in Filey have now been told to "use it or lose it" after last Friday's matinee performance of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs failed to attract more than about a dozen advance bookings.
The Tony Peers production was due to be staged at the Concert Hall for one show only, to coincide with the half-term holiday.
Although it was the first cancellation in some time, Evron Centre manager Nick Butterworth said there was a danger more companies would get cold feet about visiting Filey if they thought they were going to make a loss. Most commercially run theatre companies insist on a certain number of advance bookings in order to limit any potential losses.
Mr Butterworth said: "I was away last week, but I gather they had to turn away about 35 to 40 people. If you're a parent and you've got a family, you organise your whole day around things like that."
He said there was the also the cost and inconvenience of buying in stock and bringing in staff – all underwritten by Scarborough Council.
"A lot of people in Filey just don't buy tickets in advance, they walk in.
"It's worth making people aware that if they don't book in advance, there's a danger of this happening, because all the touring companies are the same. Unless they get enough adavnce ticket sales, they won't put on a show."
Local resident and volunteer Catherine Welch said it was inevitable that venues like the Evron Centre relied to a certain extent on passing trade, as holidaymakers couldn't be expected to know what was on at the theatre until they arrived.
"They see the posters," she said. "That's how we get a lot of people to events I'm involved with, like the Rocks and Fossils walks."
Promoter Tony Peers, of Scarborough-based Tony Peers Productions, said it was simply not true that the people of Filey were unfairly treated – by his company at least.
"Last year we did five shows and they weren't supported, and rather than walk away we made another attempt to do panto, and still they didn't support it.
"We will continue to do things for Filey because we've got a long history in the town, going back to the Sun Lounge. But it's fair to say we lost a considerable amount of money and to expect us to put on a full panto production for nine people who had booked and then complain when we don't is disingenous."
Mr Peers, who made his name as a stage comedian, said ticket sales were up about 40 per cent in Scarborough last summer, while the company had always struggled in Filey, where they lost a "considerable" amount of money last year.
Anyone who was let down by last Friday's cancellation is invited to contact Tony Peers Productions on (01723) 352991 for free tickets to a production in Scarbor-ough.