THOSE Magic Beans are pulling out of presenting next winter's pantomime at the York Barbican after disappointing ticket sales for Robin Hood And The Babes In The Wood.

"Sadly, it seems there is not a demand in York for a pantomime season at the Barbican," said "heartbroken" producer Jamie Alexander Wilson.

Despite a cast featuring Boyzone's Shane Lynch as the Sheriff, A1 singer Ben Adams as Robin Hood, Brookside's Michael Starke as dame Nurse Nelly, EastEnders' Ricky Norwood as Silly Billy Scarlett and Tadcaster actress Beth Stevens as Maid Marian, the December 21 to 31 run sold fewer than 6,000 tickets.

"We would have needed to see sales at least double the figure they achieved in order to make it viable to return," said Mr Wilson. "We were targeting 15,000, with 12,000 as an absolute minimum."

Robin Hood was Mr Wilson's first pantomime in the north and the first Barbican winter pantomime since 2012, but was in competition in York with two well established pantomimes. Dowager dame Berwick Kaler's 39th panto at York Theatre Royal, Jack And The Beanstalk, is "on target to at least equal if not beat" the 44,677 ticket sales for last winter's Cinderella while Three Bears Productions' Beauty And The Beast at the Grand Opera House drew an average audience of 700 per show from December 15 to January 7.

By comparison with his Barbican sales, Wilson's company broke pantomime box-office records at The Stag Theatre, Sevenoaks, where 22,000 people saw Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs and also drew 16,000 panto punters to Sleeping Beauty at a second Kent theatre, The Woodville, Gravesend. Snow White was announced on the back of the Robin Hood programme as the next Barbican panto, although marketing officer Seb Santabarbara said today that "the official line is that the pantomime is now a dropped pencil in the diary and was never a confirmed date for Christmas 2018".

Mr Wilson's company mounted a heavy-rotation marketing campaign on the Barbican walls, city lamp posts, in print and on the radio; employed a rising young local talent, Beth Stevens, as Maid Marian; ran an apprentice mentoring project during rehearsals and visited a host of York schools with a guide to the history of pantomime.

"We're very proud of the pantomime we staged at York Barbican, and we’re equally proud of the work we did to engage with and invest in the local community, in York’s schools, and in the young performers who took part in our show this Christmas," said the producer.

"Sadly, it seems there is not a demand in York for a pantomime season at the Barbican. We received wonderful feedback from our audiences, but despite the investment in an excellent cast, high production values, marketing and education, not enough people bought tickets to make a return to the Barbican in 2018 a viable option.

"It’s heart breaking not to be able to return to a city we’ve quickly grown to love and sadder still that we won’t be able to continue to grow our relationship with the young performers, schools and apprentices, and the teams at The Press, Minster FM, and of course the Barbican, all of whom helped to make our year in York incredibly special."

Looking ahead, Mr Wilson said Those Magic Beans took a "serious hit" financially with Robin Hood and is now contemplating his next step. "It's been a dream of ours to produce a pantomime in such a beautiful city as York and we gave it a good go. We very much hope that one day in the future an opportunity will present itself for us to return to York."

In 2013, Blue Genie cancelled its York Barbican pantomime, Dick Whittington, starring Chloe Madeley and CBeebies' Alex Winters, a fortnight before opening, again blighted by poor ticket sales. Robin Hood was the first Barbican Christmas panto since then.