The production company behind children’s play Dear Zoo has had to cancel all its UK shows after its tour van was stolen.
The heavily-branded van containing £50,000 worth of props and staging was stolen in Peterborough on Saturday.
Producer Chris Davis said “thousands of children will be disappointed” as all 56 remaining shows had been cancelled.
He said five actors and the stage manager would have to be made redundant because of the cancellations.
The Mercedes truck, brightly painted with the show’s logo and a lion in a cage, had been parked overnight on Cecil Road in Peterborough, where the stage manager was staying following performances in the city.
It was taken at about 01:15 BST on Saturday and its GPS tracker shows it was driven up the A1 and the A52.
The signal stopped transmitting at about 02:10 at Sedgebrook, near Grantham in Lincolnshire.
The production company believes the tracker was disabled by the thieves.
The van contained the entire set, costumes and puppet animals used in the Dear Zoo Live show – a stage production of the popular book by Rod Campbell about a child who writes to a zoo asking to be sent a pet.
The book was published in 1982 and has sold more than eight million copies worldwide.
Mr Davis described the theft of the van and contents as “a tragedy”.
“It will take more than a month to replace the contents and thousands of children will be disappointed,” he said.
“I can replace the van, but I can’t replace the show.”
The contents were “worth nothing to these thieves – they’re no use to anyone but us”, Mr Davis added.
All remaining shows have been cancelled, including those in Bromsgrove, Worcestershire, which were due to take following the Peterborough shows and had already sold out.
Mr Davis said all tickets would be refunded and they hoped to be ready to tour again in September.
Parents have shared messages of support for the show on social media.
One woman posted on Facebook: “Absolutely gutted for you guys! Was so looking forward to seeing you in East Grinstead, still we’re looking forward to seeing you in the autumn and will appreciate it more.”
Another said it was a “really big shame” as she had planned to take her god-daughters to see the show in Folkestone on Wednesday and the girls were “so excited”.
Cambridgeshire Police is continuing to investigate the theft but said there had been no reported sightings of the van.