AND then there were three. Not only the already confirmed Faye Campbell will be returning to the York Theatre Royal pantomime but so too will Robin Simpson and Paul Hawkyard, the award-nominated Ugly Sisters double act from Cinderella.
Completing his hattrick of Theatre Royal pantos after 2020’s The Travelling Pantomime and 2021-2022’s Cinders, Simpson will play Mrs Smee – effectively the dame role – while Hawkyard will take to the dark side as the villainous Captain Hook.
Calls aplenty had grown for Simpson and Hawkyard’s pantomime chemistry to be sparked up anew in the third Theatre Royal and Evolution Productions collaboration, particularly after their riotous sisterly double act as Manky and Mardy in Cinderella was nominated for Best Ugly Sisters in the 2022 UK Pantomime Association’s Pantomime Awards.
Glory be, they will be reunited in creative director Juliet Forster’s production of All New Adventures Of Peter Pan, performing once more alongside Campbell, last winter’s Cinderella.
Hawkyard, who previously showed York his Bottom in Shakespeare’s Rose Theatre’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Eye of York in 2018, is chuffed to have hooked the role of Hook. “Robin and I kept getting mobbed last year in York, so we’ve had to change our identity this year. Manky and Mardy are back in the wardrobe, and the hook is being sharpened and polished as we speak,” he said.
“I’m so looking forward to playing one of the most famous and evil villains ever – the tall, dark and incredibly handsome Captain Hook, the original pirate king.”
Simpson added: “I’m delighted to be returning to York Theatre Royal for my third pantomime there. I’m also very excited to be back on stage with Paul Hawkyard. He’s a very funny guy and I’m so glad that my ‘sister’ from last year is able to return. Can’t wait.”
Simpson first gave York his Dame in The Travelling Pantomime, touring to community venues in multiple York wards for socially distanced performance in December 2020, before turning Ugly in Cinderella.
He and Hawkyard previously worked together in both A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Macbeth in Shakespeare’s Rose Theatre’s first year in York.
In late-March, book in hand at first, he stepped into the melancholic role of Jacques at very short notice in Northern Broadsides’ York Theatre Royal run of As You Like It, later filling in for Covid-enforced cast absences in further dates on the tour.
Previously he toured the country with the Halifax company as Benedict in Much Ado About Nothing. Hawkyard, meanwhile, has been filming the new series of Channel 5’s All Creatures Great And Small, set in Yorkshire.
Campbell starred in The Travelling Pantomime tour as The Hero and Dick Whittington, then took on the title role in Cinderella last winter. Come December, she will be Elizabeth Darling in All New Adventures Of Peter Pan, scripted by Evolution Productions’ co-founder, Paul Hendy.
Joining Campbell, Simpson and Hawkyard will be CBeebies’ favourite Maddie Moate, the first name out of the panto hat, who will be flying into the Theatre Royal to play mischievous fairy Tinkerbell in the family-friendly pantomime adventure.
Creative director Juliet Forster said: “We are absolutely delighted to welcome back Robin, Paul and Faye for this year’s pantomime. They were all hugely popular with our audiences in Cinderella last year and we can’t wait for them to return to our stage in these fabulous new roles.”
Further casting will be revealed in coming months, first up the imminent announcement of who will be Peter Pan.
All New Adventures Of Peter Pan will run from December 2 2022 to January 2 2023. Box office: 01904 623568 or at yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.