Norwich Theatre Royal confirms Ben Langley axed from panto
The Norwich Theatre Royal chief executive has now confirmed that comedian and Britain’s Got Talent star Ben Langley will not be part of the cast of the 2019-20 pantomime Cinderella.
The statement follows more than two weeks after Mr Langley, who lives in Shimpling, Diss, announced the news on his Twitter account, which resulted into fans setting up two petitions calling for his return.
A Norwich Theatre Royal producer told Mr Langley that the show is going in a ‘new direction’ and the theatre has now confirmed speculations of Mr Langley’s departure.
Stephen Crocker, Norwich Theatre Royal chief executive, said: “It is very rare for any theatre producer to comment on casting processes and almost unheard of to announce that a performer will not be appearing in a new production. The casting process is complex and sensitive, and we also feel an ethical duty not to speculate on such matters.
“It is therefore with regret and under duress, we have taken this unusual decision as a response to media interest supported by Ben, customer inquiries and speculation on social media.”
The petitions launched on change.org in an effort to save the panto favourite have been signed by almost 3,000 people and received the backing of former footballer and TV presenter Darren Eadie.
Many fans say they won’t return to this year’s pantomime, stating that it wouldn’t be the same without Mr Langley.
Mr Crocker further added: "In making casting decisions, we look at the available parts, who would be most suitable for the individual roles on a production-by-production basis and no person is guaranteed to be engaged for more than one year at a time.
"When considering artists with whom we have previously worked, we also take into account their performance on and off stage. The production team has weighed up all of these factors when making this decision."
Mr Langley, who currently stars in Aladdin as Mr Wishee Washee at Norwich Theatre Royal, has been approached for comment.