EASTENDERS star Shane Richie has urged people to support Malvern Theatres as the impact of coronavirus threatens the existence of the business.

Malvern Theatres relies almost entirely on ticket sales for its revenue, as only one per cent of its income is from public funding.

Because of the lockdown, the theatre’s income has disappeared and managers have called on the people of Malvern to help save their theatre.

Many big names have performed there over the years and one of them, Shane Richie, said he was desperate for Malvern to survive as " theatres are having the worst time ever" with no ticket sales income.

Chief executive Nic Lloyd said: “The vital role Malvern Theatres plays in our community has never been clearer and we are appealing for help from our audiences, friends and neighbours to help ensure that we can continue to bring life-enhancing culture to the town.

“The loss of Malvern Theatres would be devastating, not just to our loyal visitors, but also to our local community and economy. To avoid this fate, we must act now and work quickly to ensure that we are ready to reopen when allowed.

“As we emerge from this pandemic, Malvern Theatres is poised to play a crucial role in helping to bring our community back together.”

Malvern Theatres has played host to a number of big names over the decades including Errol Flynn, Helen Mirren, Donald Sutherland, Leslie Nielsen, Charlton Heston, Colin Firth and Rachel Weisz.

One famous face who has performed in Malvern on a number of occasions is the former Eastenders star Shane Richie, who said he hopes the theatre will survive.

He said: “Malvern Theatres is known to actors for its reputation for attracting the biggest names and the finest drama productions. When being offered a tour this is one of the theatres I request to be added should it not be in the schedule. It usually is though.

“The theatre is more diverse than at any time in its history and it is known for building its audience numbers year-on-year owing to the variety and quality of the many varied productions that it stages. This dreadful coronavirus has shut the world down, especially the world of entertainment.

“Theatres, TV and film studios all came to a grinding halt when it took hold. Although studios will slowly return under new guidelines, theatres sadly will take more time as it is more difficult owing to health safety.

“It is obviously sustained by an audience via ticket sales. So now owing to social distancing, theatres are having the worst time ever. Even pantomimes are in jeopardy for this year, and our industry hopes a solution will be found in time for this year’s season. Imagine the scenario “Where’s the ghost ,boys and girls? ……… It’s two metres behind you.”

“I, like many, can’t see a UK tour without Malvern, and I send my sincere best wishes to all concerned and look forward to a return.”

West Worcestershire MP Harriett Baldwin said she had been in contact with Mr Lloyd to discuss the theatre’s future: “I spoke to Nic Lloyd at length when lockdown was first introduced, to make sure that he is able to access the government’s job retention scheme, which was extended this week to keep his staff on the payroll.

“The government has set out a plan which could see venues open later this summer if clinical conditions allow, and I hope that the Malvern Theatres management team is able to find solutions which keep the business viable until then – as well as, if necessary, appealing for local financial support.

“The theatre and cinema is an incredibly important and popular local destination and I will continue to offer my support through these challenging times.”

Malvern Hills District Council leader Sarah Rouse, who is a trustee on the board, called the theatre “the jewel in the crown” of Malvern, urging residents to donate to keep it going.

She said: “Malvern Theatres is one of the jewels in the district’s crown and a vital part of not only our economy, but also our community and Malvern’s identity.

“As a trustee on the board all the exciting plans we had only weeks ago have gone and right now we are looking at a bleak future. It would be devastating if we lost Malvern Theatres so I urge people to please give whatever they can to help this wonderful asset survive.”

Mayor of Malvern, Councillor Neil Morton said the town council is working with the management of the Theatre to lend what support it can.

He said: “It would be a huge shame if the theatre were to go under, it has been part of the town for so many years, so it is worrying to hear its future is at risk.

“The theatre plays an important role in attracting visitors to the town the Town Council will be working with the management team of Malvern Theatres to help secure its future.”

To help Malvern Theatres, go to www.malvern-theatres.co.uk/support-us/