Parents have been shocked by the decision to not include performers under the age of 16 at this year’s Weymouth Pavilion pantomime.

The Pavilion Theatre will host performances of Dick Whittington between December 15 and January 5.

Local children usually get the opportunity to take part as performers.

But this year after successful auditions, hours of rehearsals and having received the times and dates of their performances, the children were told they could no longer take part.

The decision was made due to an unforeseen lack of chaperones.

Parents received an email from Made to Measure Productions, the company behind the pantomime, to let them know that their child was no longer required and wouldn’t be needed at the following morning's rehearsal.

The email read: “Unfortunately we are in a situation where we do not have anywhere near enough chaperones to ensure that the children can appear in this year’s production.

“We explored every possible option available to us to resolve this situation but no solution provided a practical, safe and reasonable way for us to allow the children to take part in the show this year.

“We would like to take this opportunity to express how upset we are in having to have made this decision.”

When approached for a comment, Made to Measure referred the Echo to the email sent out to parents.

One resident said: “A sad disappointment for these youngsters and the extended community. Pantos are supposed to be fun.

“Having supported the Weymouth pantomime at the Pavilion Theatre for some years now and recommended it to friends and family, I am shocked to hear how they have treated their young performers.

“Have the organisers any idea of the effects that this kind of treatment, by respected adults, may have on these youngsters?

“They have worked hard, committed themselves to rehearsals in anticipation of performances over the Christmas and New Year period only to be let down.”

Parents were not asked to be chaperones for this pantomime, unlike in previous years, as the production company decided to employ some full-time chaperones instead.

Because some of these chaperones pulled out of the project, the company only had a couple of weeks to try and replace them.

Weymouth Pavilion operator Phil Say said: “We had half the number of chaperones that we needed and some of those may have taken six weeks to be DBS-checked.

“I was left with the difficult decision to either make a decision now or to run the very real risk of children turning up in their costumes on the day only to be told that, due to a paperwork issue, they can’t perform.

“Time was against us and I couldn’t risk the children’s safety. 

“We have offered parents either a refund or to exchange their tickets to see another show at the Pavilion.”