Mr Stephens, who resigned on 23 June and was subsequently suspended pending an inquiry, was invited by a relative of a member of the cast to be his guest at the performance.
However, due to his suspension the theatre’s board declined the request that he attend the show, a move that ex-board member Michael Vardon, who resigned on 27 June, described as ‘cruel and unnecessarily petty’.
Mr Stephens said: ‘I was obviously pretty upset to miss the opening night.
I’ve made every opening night for the last six years and this was one of the most significant shows we’ve had.
Having worked so hard and so long to get it here, I was very, very upset not to be there and share in a special opening night.’ Chairman of the board Advocate Christopher Lakeman said the decision had been taken in the light of Mr Stephens’s suspension ‘in accordance with every normal disciplinary situation’.
‘Ian Stephens is suspended and may not enter the workplace.
We are sticking to the rules,’ he said.
‘The suggestion that that was motivated by anything other than us wanting to follow good employment practice is unnecessary.’ The theatre’s auditors, Moore Stephens, are continuing their investigation into what the board term ‘financial irregularities’ centring on the working hours of one member of staff.
The inquiry is now not expected to be concluded before the middle of next week.