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Theatre-goers Evacuated

A bomb threat forced Ontario's storied Stratford Festival to cancel its opening night of the 2018 season.

STRATFORD - Opening night of the 2018 theatre season didn't go as planned at southwestern Ontario's storied Stratford Festival.

Police say the Avon and Festival theatres were evacuated last night as a precaution after receiving a call that explosives had been placed at the festival. 

Ann Swerdfager, the Publicity Director for the Stratford Festival says they had to vacate the premises.

"As a result we decided that we needed to evacuate the property immediately and all of our theatres. We did so and people were incredibly orderly, agreeable and it all happened very quickly."

Both theatre security and the Stratford Police ensured the premise was safely evacuated. For added insurance that there were no explosives on site, the Hamilton Police Service assisted with an explosives officer and canine. 

Swerdfager says the shows will continue as scheduled tonight.

"Police were in place overnight, securing and doing sweeps of all of our properties. We are now going to proceed with the shows today and we will have increased security on site."

A thorough search of the properties was conducted and completed by 4:00 a.m. at which time officers concluded that there was nothing suspicious located during the search of the properties. 

Deputy Chief Sam Theocharis says Stratford Police will also be there tonight.

"We will be assisting the security that is in place in the Festival and Avon theatres. Again we will be closely together with both groups to ensure that the performances go on and everyone is kept safe."

A spokesperson says all tickets will be honoured and Monday's affected ticket-holders will be contacted by festival staff.

Theocharis says anyone with information should reach out to them.

"We're now switching our focus to a criminal investigation; so anyone that has information regarding this incident is to contact the Stratford Police Service or of course Crime Stoppers."

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