Christian protesters were set to protest at Fairfield Halls last Night (Tuesday) before the Croydon premiere of the controversial stage production of Jerry Springer The Opera.

Representatives from religious group Christian Voice said they would descend on the theatre last night to protest against the play.

A number of disgruntled Christians labelled the production as "blasphemous" and "unrighteous", prompting last night's church service' style vigil which included hymns, bible readings and prayers.

The show has angered a number of Croydon residents for the way it portrays Christian morals and beliefs.

Fairfield managers said contractual arrangements meant they were unable to pull the show but the venue's chief executive Derek Barr admitted that "maybe we should have avoided it".

Last night's planned protest came after Fairfield axed three performances of the play. The scheduled Monday night and Thursday and Saturday matinees were cancelled.

Christian Voice said the cancellations were a victory for them, but Fairfield bosses blamed "logistical concerns".

Stephen Green, national director of Christian Voice, said: "We were praying for the show to be cancelled, but cutting it in half has to be a result. It shows how unpopular the show has become and I suppose all the leafleting we have done at the venue, which Fairfield were not at all pleased with, has had an effect.

"Bringing this show to Croydon has certainly rebounded on Derek Barr and Fairfield Halls. They are going to lose a stack of money. It will be good to turn the opening night into a celebration."

However, a Fairfield Halls spokesman rejected Christian Voice's claims that the dates were cancelled as a result of pressure from the religious group.

"The reason the Monday night performance was cancelled was due to the logistics of setting up the production. It's a massive production and Monday night's performance was cancelled to allow the crew more time to set-up."

The spokesman also confirmed that the matinee performances had been scrapped.

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