THE Ebor Players mark the
25th anniversary of their first pantomime by staging Mother Goose
from December 2 to 7 at Bishopthorpe Village Hall, near York.
David Rose will play the
title role after “taking a huge break with tradition” last year when, for the
first time in more than 20 years, he switched to the dark side as the villainous
Abanazar in Aladdin.
“Although I thoroughly
enjoyed the change, this year I’m back in frocks for my traditional role as dame,”
The Ebor Players were formed in 1994 in Bishopthorpe. “The aim was to present a pantomime in the village,” recalls David. “Now, 25 years later, the Players just go from strength to strength.
“Our pantomimes today bear
little resemblance to those early years. The group has evolved to present a
much slicker, more professional-looking show. This year’s show, Mother Goose,
has a cast and crew of more than 40 people and is a riot of colour, music and
laughter, with something for everyone.”
Performances will start at
7.30pm each evening. “Our Saturday night adults-only shows have always been so
popular and oversubscribed, so this year we’ve introduced a Wednesday evening
adults-only – 16 plus – cabaret-style event, but at the same price as our
regular shows” says David. “So you can come along, have a drink and let your
hair down for the evening.”
Tickets cost £8 for adults, £6 for children, at ticketsource.co.uk\ebor-players, on 07591 297221 or via the Ebor Players’ Facebook page.
YORK company Pilot Theatre have assembled
the cast for next year’s world premiere of Crongton Knights.
Adapted for the stage by Emteaz
Hussain from Alex Wheatle’s award-winning novel, Corey Campbell and Esther Richardson’s
co-production will be launched at the Belgrade Theatre, Coventry, from February
8 to 22 before playing York Theatre Royal from February 25 to 29.
In Crongton Knights, life isn’t easy on
the Crongton Estate. McKay and his mates favour keeping their heads down, but
when a friend finds herself in trouble, they set out on a mission that goes
further than any of them imagined.
Pilot Theatre’s show will take you on a
night of madcap adventure as McKay and his friends, The Magnificent Six, encounter
the dangers and triumphs of a quest gone awry.
The pulse of the city will be alive on
stage, propelled by a soundscape of beatboxing and vocals laid down by the cast
and created by musician Conrad Murray.
Rehearsals will begin in Coventry on January 6 2020. Leading the cast will be Olisa Odele as McKay, having played Ola in Chewing Gum on E4 and PC Merrick in BBC1’s Scarborough, while Kate Donnachie will take the role of Bushkid; Simi Egbejumi-David, Festus; Aimee Powell, Venetia; Khai Shaw, Jonah; Marcel White, Nesta, and Nigar Yeva, Saira.
The production team is led by Corey
Campbell, artistic director of Strictly Arts Theatre Company and co-artistic
director of the Belgrade Theatre for 2021, and Esther Richardson, Pilot’s
artistic director. The designer is Simon Kenny; lighting is by Richard G Jones,
who lit The Railway Children at the National Railway Museum, York.
Crongton Knights will be the
second of four co-productions between Pilot Theatre, Derby Theatre,
Belgrade Theatre, Coventry, and York Theatre Royal, who last year formed a partnership
to develop theatre for younger audiences in tandem with the Mercury Theatre,
From 2019 to 2022, the
consortium will commission and co-produce an original mid-scale touring production
each year. Each show will play in all the consortium venues, as well as touring
The consortium’s first
production, Noughts & Crosses, was seen by more than 30,000
people on tour this year, with 40 per cent of the audience being aged under 20.
After the Coventry and York runs, Crongton Knights will be on tour until May 9, with further Yorkshire performances at the Lawrence Batley Theatre, Huddersfield, from March 31 to April 4. York tickets are on sale on 01904 623568, at yorktheatreroyal.co.uk or in person from the Theatre Royal box office.
WHO is your favourite Scrooge? Albert Finney? Tim Curry?
Patrick Stewart? George C Scott? Lionel Barrymore on the radio?
Maybe Michael Caine in The Muppets’ Christmas Carol? Jim Carrey?
Or how about Jim Backus as the voice of Mister Magoo in Mister Magoo’s Christmas
Carol, or even Bill Murray’s Frank Cross in Scrooged?
Mark Hird, who plays Scrooge from tomorrow (November 26) in Pick
Me Up Theatre’s Scrooge The Musical at the Grand Opera House, York, has no
hesitation in picking Alastair Sim from Brian Desmond Hurst’s 1951 film,
“I loved his performance! He was unashamedly nasty, but
there was something in his eyes, that glint, that made you think there’s
something going on there,” says Mark, who is leading Robert Readman’s cast,
fresh from directing this autumn’s Pick Me Up musical, Monster Makers,
at 41 Monkgate.
He now adds Charles Dickens’s
Ebenezer Scrooge to a diverse Pick Me Up CV that includes Captain Mainwaring inDad’s Army, Colonel Pickering inMy Fair Lady and Uncle Fester in
The Addams Family, and he is particularly enjoying performing the songs in Leslie
“The songs really help
in bringing out Scrooge’s thoughts, whether in the 1970 film musical with
Albert Finney or the stage version with six extra songs. You discover new
things every time you do it.” says Mark.
“I’ve had the chance
to play some really cold, nasty characters: there’s nothing redeemable about Inspector
Wormold in Betty Blue Eyes or The Beadle in Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber Of
Fleet Street, but, on the other side, I also get to play all the ridiculously
loveable characters, like Captain Mainwaring, Uncle Fester and Colonel
“So, in many ways,
Scrooge is more interesting because he goes on a journey from one to the other,
and it’s really fun as an actor to make that transition, but also not to make
him black and white. There are reasons in his past for some of the things he’s
Time for a quick
refresher course: based on Dickens’s Victorian cautionary tale A Christmas
Carol, Scrooge tells the tale of old miser Ebenezer Scrooge on the night he is
visited by the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Yet To Come. Here that tale
is told in an “all-singing, all-dancing, all-flying” show.
All-flying, Mark? “Yes, we have some flying in this show.
Scrooge has to fly with Rory Mulvihill’s Ghost of Christmas Present, and Tony
Froud’s Jacob Marley will float above the stage to sing his big number,” says
“I haven’t flown on
stage before, but I’m not scared of heights. I love walking the hills in Scotland.”
Joining Mark in the
company will be Alan Park’s Bob Cratchit. “The advantage we have doing the show
at the Grand Opera House, rather than our other home at 41 Micklegate, is that you
can put on a big spectacle, but you can also have intimate scenes too, such as Cratchit
and Tiny Tim’s scenes,” says Alan.
“But the experience
of performing at 41 Micklegate develops that intimate form of acting, which you
can then take into the bigger theatre,” says Mark.
He and Park see the contemporary resonance in Dickens’s story. “It’s amazing to look back at the impact Dickens’s book had on politicians, as well as general readers, concerning the inequality of working conditions for the working classes, and the cruelty Cratchit faces. That strikes a chord today,” says Mark.
“Cratchit thinks ‘this
is my lot; I will make the most of what I have’, and he sees Scrooge as alien
to his world, because that’s how society is,” says Alan.
“No politician will
change Scrooge, but the three Ghosts do have an impact, which makes him change
“But what’s more
depressing is that if A Christmas Carol were to be played out in modern times,
I’m not sure there would be sympathy for the Bob Cratchits of this world.”
“Maybe we need
another Dickens for this age,” says Mark. “If the Ghost of Christmas Yet To
Come brought Dickens to 2019, I think he would be horrified.”
“You could argue that
we need the Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come to visit some of our politicians
right now,” says Alan, as the winter-of-discontent General Election fast approaches.
Pick Me Up Theatre’s Scrooge The Musical runs from Tuesday, November 26 to Sunday, December 1 at Grand Opera House, York. Performances: 7.30pm, Tuesday to Sunday; 2.30pm, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. Box office: 0844 871 3024 or at atgtickets.com/york.
company Baron Productions are to stage Richard Brinsley Sheridan’s Georgian
comedy of manners, The Rivals, next month.
at Covent Garden Theatre, London, in January 1775, its latest York production
is being directed by Paul Toy, who also will play bombastic
rival suitor Bob Acres in 7.30pm performances at the Quaker Meeting
House, Pickering, on December 7 and St Mary’s Church, Bishophill Junior, York,
from December 12 to 14.
founder Daniel Wilmot says: “The story of Captain Jack Absolute’s clandestine
courtship of the cynical, yet romantic, Lydia Languish, under the noses of
their respective guardians, blustering Sir Anthony Absolute and hilarious Mrs
Malaprop, is one that has made me smile from the first time I read it.
it’s in keeping with our company’s tradition of theatre with a ‘thoroughly
dashing edge’ – period settings, witty dialogue, lush costumes, occasional duelling,
sometimes even in character – it seemed the perfect choice to bring a laugh or
two to the winter months after our darker production of Hamlet this summer.”
Baron Productions in 2015 to produce and direct the swashbuckling pirate romp Crossed
Swords, since when they have performed Oscar Wilde’s The Picture Of Dorian Gray
in 2016, Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre in 2017 and a Yorkshire tour of
Shakespeare’s Hamlet this year.
of The Rivals is a poignant one for me as well,” says Wilmot. “I did the show
back in 2012 as a rehearsed reading at the York Theatre Royal Studio, under the
direction of Edward Pearce, and lovely Ruth Ford was in the cast as well, playing
Mrs Malaprop of course.
“Neither of them is still with us. I have a lot of happy memories of working with them, so aside from liking the show, I wanted to do a fully-fledged version dedicated to them and their memories.”
Toy’s cast features Steve Mawson as the domineering Sir Anthony Absolute; Margaret Davey as Mrs Malaprop; Daniel Wilmot as Captain Jack Absolute; Raffy Parker as Lydia Languish and Dave Parkinson as the argumentative Irish baronet Sir Lucius O’Trigger.
Tyler Cooke will play the hapless lovelorn Faulkland; Meg Davies,
his long-suffering partner Julia; Zoe Glossop, pompous butler Fag; Molly Ridley,
Acres’ terrified servant David, and Amy Fincham, conniving housemaid
set the piece at the turn of the 19th century. “This allows for lots
of dashing Poldark-esque costumes, the occasional
wig, and a healthy dose of swaggering and swashbuckling,” says Wilmot. “He’s
also promised a little singing as well.”
Tickets cost £10, concessions £8, under 18s £5, at ticketsource.co.uk/baron-productions or on the door from 7pm each night.
Musical Theatre Company will stage Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s Jesus
Christ Superstar from November 27 to 30 at the Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York.
newcomer John Whitney will lead director Paul Laidlaw’s cast for this 1972 rock
opera, a “musical phenomenon” that follows the last week of Jesus’s life through
the eyes of Judas Iscariot, exploring the struggles and personal relationships
between his followers and disciples.
gritty and touching emotional rollercoaster ride, Lloyd Webber and Rice’s score
parades such favourites as Superstar, Everything’s Alright and I Don’t Know How
To Love Him.
joined in the creative team by musical director John Atkin, overseeing a cast
led by Whitney’s Jesus, Marlena Kelli’s Mary Magdalene, Peter Wookie as Pilate
and Chris Mooney as Judas.
“We were thrilled
to have such a great response to auditions, particularly from so many new faces
to the company,” says Laidlaw. “We’ve always been proud of the fact that we
welcome any new people to join any show that we do, and if you’re new, you can
walk into lead roles, and that’s what’s happened.
actors playing Jesus, Judas, Pilate and Mary Magdalene are all new to the company
and it’s really encouraging to see. The strength in the singing is staggering
and is going to sound just fantastic on stage. We really can’t wait to show
York audiences all our hard work.”
principal roles go to John Haigh as Herod; Chris Haygard as Simon Zealotes;
Martin Harvey, Caiphas; Matthew Clare, Annas; Simon Trow and Malcolm Poole,
Priests; David Martin, Apostle Peter, and Heather Richmond, Maid.
In the ensemble will be Helen Barugh; Victoria Hughes; Helen Goodwill; Samantha Hindman; Jane Holiday; Elly-Mai Mawson; Karen Mawson; Jennifer Page; Amie Stone; Holly Inch; Amy Lacy; Paula Stainton; Charlotte Wetherell; Matthew Ainsworth; Derek McMahon and Andrew Pilot.
Tickets for the 7.30pm evening shows and 2.30pm Saturday matinee are on sale at £18, concessions £16, at josephrowntreetheatre.co.uk or on 01904 501935.
Hello And Goodbye, York Theatre Royal Studio, until November 30. Box office: 01904 623568 or at yorktheatreroyal.co.uk
to in-house productions in the York Theatre Royal Studio with this revival of
Athol Fugard’s 1965 South African play Hello And Goodbye.
John R Wilkinson had lamented the hiatus since the fading away of such Studio works
as Blackbird, Blue/Orange and The White Crow and his own show, Can’t Stand Up
For Falling Down, six years ago, as he spoke of the pride and spirit engendered
by this resurrection: the very last word uttered in Fugard’s “biting yet beautiful
parable”, by the way.
“The blue magic of
that space has always given rise to intense, intimate storytelling,” said Wilkinson,
whose production is exactly that: intense and intimate.
Hello And Goodbye
is a two-hander, albeit with the “presence” of a third family member, the
father to Johnnie (Emilio Iannucci) and Hester (Jo Mousley).
Hester is making
an unexpected, unannounced visit to the family home at 57A Valley Road, Port
Elizabeth, after an absence stretching back longer than the aforementioned Studio
already has delivered a restless, psychologically fevered monologue, one that
establishes both the dysfunctional state of the family and the unnerving dark,
even gothic, humour at play in Fugard’s writing.
with Iannucci, he said audiences had laughed at some performances, not at
others, but the play had worked both ways.
The way it goes may
well depend on how you react to Johnnie telling Hester that he and their
disabled Dad have been getting on well enough, but she cannot disturb him because
he is asleep in the room next door. Put bluntly, his sleep could not be deeper.
If Johnnie is
nervy, neurotic, repeatedly reaching for biblical quotes, Mousley’s Hester is
frenetic in her desperate search for the £500 that she believes their father has
squirrelled away somewhere in the house.
Johnnie can keep
the house if he lets her find and keep the money, a task that involves him
bringing through case after case that trigger traumatic memories of their past.
Their already fractured relationship only worsens as Fugard meditates on
family, selfishness and redemption, set against the social upheaval in South
Africa at large.
Hello And Goodbye brings to mind the discomfiting Sixties’ plays of Samuel Beckett and Harold Pinter, not least in a set design that mirrors the frayed, wounded state of mind of the sparring siblings, as designer Laura Ann Price scatters the stage with debris from the crumbling, smashed-out back wall.
Wilkinson has cast
superbly: after his Studio debut in the children’s show E Nesbit’s The Book Of
Dragons in December 2017 and his Romeo in Shakespeare’s Rose Theatre’s Romeo
And Juliet at Blenheim Palace this summer, Iannucci has hit new heights here,
calling on his physical theatre skills, his feel for black comedy and his
relish for a surprise.
Mousley is a brilliant
pick too, making her Theatre Royal debut after a year of outstanding performances
in the Leeds Playhouse Pop-Up Theatre Ensemble. Her Hester has the disruptive force
of an Ibsen, Chekhov or Greek tragedian female lead, and together with Iannucci,
they settle on a mutual South African accent that is another impressive feature
of Wilkinson’s intriguing, fascinating production.
he called Hello And Goodbye “weird”, smiling impishly as he said it. Make that
weird good, not weird bad.
BAH Humbug! The
Christmas spirit is taking over the Grand Opera House, York, from Tuesday and
not even Ebenezer Scrooge can stop it.
York company Pick Me
Up Theatre are presenting their big winter show, Scrooge The Musical, directed
by Robert Readman, with choreography by Iain Harvey and musical direction by
course: based on Charles Dickens’s Victorian cautionary tale A Christmas Carol,
Scrooge tells the tale of old miser Ebenezer Scrooge on the night he is visited
by the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Yet To Come.
Can he be turned
from sourpuss to saint? What will happen to Tiny Tim? Will everyone have a
merry Christmas after all? “Come and find out in this all-singing, all-dancing,
all-flying show,” invites Robert.
His cast will be led by Pick Me Up regular Mark Hird, fresh from directing this autumn’s musical, Monster Makers, at 41 Monkgate. He now adds Scrooge to a diverse CV that includes Captain Mainwaring in Dad’s Army, Colonel Pickering in My Fair Lady and Uncle Fester in The Addams Family.
roles go to Rory Mulvihill as the jolly Ghost of Christmas Present and Alan
Park as Scrooge’s long-suffering clerk Bob Cratchit.
“It started out as a film musical in
1970, adapted for the screen by Leslie Bricusse, with Albert Finney as
Scrooge,” recalls Mark. “But it was one of those musicals that landed at an
unlucky time just as film musicals went out of fashion.
“Everyone thought it was an absolute banker, but times and tastes change,
but now, when you go back to it, it’s actually a really good film.
“So, 22 years later, Leslie Bricusse decided to turn it into a stage
musical, wrote half a dozen new songs, written specially for Anthony Newley’s
Scrooge, and it went down incredibly well.”
Alan Park chips in: “Then it became a vehicle for Tommy Steele for many
years in Bill Kenwright’s productions. Each year, Robert Readman put in a
request for the performing rights, and at last, this year he got a ‘Yes’.
“So, this must be the first time it will have been done in a theatre of
this size without it being a Bill Kenwright show.”
Park and Hird believe that Bricusse’s songs are vital to the show’s success.
“They provide the vehicle for you to discover more about the characters beyond
Scrooge, like Bob, so that by the end of a song you know more about them,” says
“You get the inner
thoughts of the characters in the songs, so you get more than 2D characters,”
suggests Mark. “You really see Scrooge’s progression, through his songs, for
“You’re also quite
surprised by the sheer variety of the songs and the music, with some big
“There are some
proper Cockney knees-up songs,” says Alan.
“But also some
lovely ballads, like when Scrooge sees the only girl he ever loved as a young
man, Isabel, his fiancée,” rejoins Mark. You go back in time and you hear her singing this gorgeous ballad
with Young Scrooge called Happiness, as old Scrooge looks on.”
“The way Robert has
staged it, you have Young Scrooge and old Scrooge mirroring each other’s
actions, so you kind of feel like Isabel is singing it to old Scrooge,” says
Picking up his
earlier point about Scrooge’s character progression, Mark says: “Through his
songs, Scrooge goes from his position of denial, saying how he hates Christmas,
to feeling ‘it’s not my fault, fate has done this to me’, when confronted by
the Ghost of Christmas Past.
“Then, with the
Ghost Of Christmas Present, he starts to think, ‘Could there be a better
life?’, so it’s a fantastic story arc and a fantastic set of songs, with one of
the most perfect stories ever written to hang it all together.”
A Christmas Carol
has been interpreted in myriad ways on screen and stage, even by The Muppets
puppets in 1992 in The Muppet Christmas Carol “My five-year-old daughter is
still convinced I’m playing a frog in Scrooge, because her exposure to A
Christmas Carol is seeing Kermit playing Bob Cratchit in the Muppets’ movie!”
abiding popularity of Dickens’ tale, Alan says: “It’s not just about
redemption. We all reflect on moments in our life, wishing we could have done
things differently, and the story also taps into nostalgia and regret and
worrying about things.
“Watching this story
unfold, it can change your perspective on the world and who you are.”
Mark adds: “It also
says it’s never too late to turn over a new leaf and never too late to start
“The story is full
of joyful moments that are infectious, even infecting Scrooge, so I do feel
it’s a feelgood show,” says Alan. “If you’re looking at a wider point, we all
tend to focus on what’s getting us down, but this story lets us step out and
think about all the joyful things of Christmas.”
Mark concludes: “There’s probably no better show to put you in a good mood for Christmas.”
Pick Me Up Theatre’s Scrooge The Musical runs from November 26 to December 1 at Grand Opera House, York. Box office: 0844 871 3024 or at atgtickets.com/york.
Nigel Slater’s Toast, York Theatre Royal, until Saturday, November 23. Box office: 01904 623568 or at yorktheatreroyal.co.uk
HERE is the
challenge facing director Jonnie Riordan. “Think about how long it takes to
actually make a piece of toast, and then how do you do that on stage when
you’re trying to keep the audience engaged?” he says.
It brings a new meaning to pop-up theatre in York after the summer Elizabeth version at Shakespeare’s Rose Theatre, and Riordan and writer Henry Filloux-Bennett have made a wonderful job of adapting cookery writer Nigel Slater’s coming-of-age memoir for the stage.
Watkins for Matt Haig’s Reasons To Stay Alive, on tour at the Theatre Royal
only two weeks ago, Riordan is both director and choreographer. However, whereas
Watkins’s show took time to find its footing on a somewhat strange-looking set
– was it a crater or a cracked cloud egg? – Toast is sure footed, even light on
its feet from the start.
narrator, guides us through his story like Slater’s lovely writing leads you
through his recipes and epicurean thoughts in his mellifluous books. Played by
the delightful Giles Cooper in schoolboy tank top and short trousers, Nigel is
nine and already drawn to the one cookery book in the Slaters’ Wolverhampton
home: Marguerite Patten’s ground-breaking Cookery In Colour, a full-colour
Sixties’ bolt out of the cordon bleu after the grey gravy of before.
the cream and brown Sixties’ kitchen of Libby Watson’s design, Cooper’s Nigel
likes to orchestrate all the storytelling, stepping in and out of a scene to
converse with the audience, but such is the skill of Filloux-Bennett’s writing
that the events of his young life have a habit of pulling the rug from under
him. At one point, his mother stops him in his tracks and tells him to re-trace
his steps to relate the true, darker version of events.
abundant humour, absolutely true to Slater’s own tone in his books, but the
darkness has to break through too, given what happened to Slater in his childhood
and teenage years.
His love of
food is omnipresent, and yes, we see toast popping up in real time and later
Nigel making mushrooms on toast with a chef’s flair and precision in one so
young. We enjoy the culinary sensations, and when Nigel is regaling us with the
delights of sweets – amid his father’s insistence that certain sweets are for
boys, others for girls – bags of sweets are passed around the audience. The
real Nigel Slater had a bag by his feet as he sat in the dress circle, by the
Food is at
the heart of Toast, glorious food and not so glorious food in the case of
Nigel’s father’s first attempt at making spaghetti bolognaise, mountains of
“sick-smelling” Parmesan dust et al. Part of the joy here is having our own recollections of mishaps around
our own kitchen tables.
food too, we see the difference between Nigel’s relationship with his Mum (Katy
Federman), pretty much tied to the apron strings, such is their bond, and his
abusive Dad (Blair Plant, back at his old Theatre Royal stamping ground).
story comes the dreadful Joan (Samantha Hopkins) and assorted characters played
by Stefan Edwards, as the first stirrings of Nigel’s sexuality play out.
Brilliant performances, a superb choice of soundtrack from La Mer to Dusty, and a finale as warm and toasty as toast make Toast a five-star treat, both measured and deeply flavoured like a Nigel Slater recipe.
‘ALLO, ‘Allo! sitcom star Vicki Michelle will spend her
winter being booed at the Grand Opera House, York, even on her birthday.
Fondly remembered for a decade of waitress service as French
dish Yvette Carte-Blanche in the BBC wartime comedy from 1982 to 1992, she will
play the Wicked Queen in Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs from December 12 to
January 4 2020.
Her 69th birthday falls on December 14 as she
settles into the Three Bears Productions’ pantomime run in a role she knows
only too well. “I’ve done lots of wicked queens,” says Vicki, in full regal
attire at the panto launch.
“I haven’t counted, but it’s probably 30 years now [in fact
Snow White will be 27th panto]. I love it, because panto is magical
for children, their parents and their grandparents, and it’s a genre where you
think, ‘thank you, we still have this each year’…with people really believing in
what they see on stage!”
Vicki relishes the audience interplay. “I’ll stamp my feet,
I’ll react to them standing up to the Wicked Queen, not in a comical way, but I
make her a bit of fun to play with,” she says
“I have to be evil - and the Wicked Queen is truly evil – but
l love doing it. I just love performing. The audience have paid to see the
show, they want to see you giving 200 per cent, and I know I’m working with
people who can do that.”
Commercial pantomimes are never slow to remind audiences of
their stars’ biggest successes. “Probably there’ll be a few lines about ‘Allo,
‘Allo!,” says Vicki, knowingly. “I was in this amazing series that’s still
shown on TV and has been sold to 80 countries. South Africa. Bulgaria. Romania.
Even Germany? “The Germans said they would never buy it, but
they did!” says Vicki with glee. “How amazing is that! ‘Allo, ‘Allo! Is still
funny. It makes you laugh out loud and there aren’t many comedies that do that
“That’s the mark of good comedy: if they can make you laugh
out loud. That should be revered.”
David Croft and Jeremy Lloyd’s long-running comedy, set in Rene’s Café in a German-occupied small French town, was recorded live to audiences of 200 to 300. “The laugh would come on the second line and grow on the third line. That’s what worked. Like in panto: audiences want the old jokes. I want the old jokes!” says Vicki. “But a lot of shows try to change things, and they don’t work.”
‘Allo, ‘Allo! gave Vicki the chance to say hello, hello to
plenty more work. “It didn’t spoil things, because afterwards you’re typecast,”
she says. “What I did was loads of theatre: playing Miss Hannigan in Annie; Salad
Days; Miss Mona in The Best Little Whorehouse In Texas; Don’t Dress For Dinner;
loads of Ray Cooney farces.”
You can add to that list Lady Bracknell in The Importance Of
Being Earnest, a 2008 tour of ‘Allo, ‘Allo! and more television too, from
playing Patricia Foster in the Yorkshire soap Emmerdale to competing in
Celebrity Master Chef in 2009 and heading into the Aussie jungle for the 2014
series of I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out Of Here!.
Vicki returns to the Grand Opera House after earlier
appearances as Jacqueline in Marc Camoletti’s
boulevard comedy Don’t Dress For Dinner and, in June this year, the
humorous three-hander Hormonal Housewives, a no-holds barred romp through the
joys of being a fabulous 21st century woman.
The tour schedule left room for only two days off in a
68-show run, but Vicki loved the script and ended up delighted she said yes to
the invitation to join Hormonal Housewives co-writer Julie Coombe and Josephine
Partridge on the road.
“It went fabulously well, doing a show, then a four to
five-hour drive, but the show was such a joy to be in,” she says. “I’d never heard
such howls of laughter.”
There was another benefit from Hormonal Housewives too. “People
would come up afterwards and say they’d lost someone, and this was the first
show they’d come out to since then as they wanted some laughter,” reveals Vicki.
Returning to York for a wicked winter in pantoland, Vicki
has plans for Christmas Day. “I want to get home for Christmas, which is always
at my place; three sisters and their families,” says the Essex-born actress,
who has Snow White performances on Christmas Eve and Boxing Day either side of that
family celebration. “Christmas morning is always something sparkly and a salmon
and a smoked cheese bagel.”
What may 2020 bring Vicki? “There are a few things that are
bubbling under, but first I’ve got this panto to enjoy,” she says.
Vicki Michelle stars in Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs,
Grand Opera House, York, December 12 to January 4 2020. Box office: 0844 871
3024 or at atgtickets.com/York
Did you know?
Vicki Michelle calls herself “Vix Mix” on her social
ONLY the last few tickets are left for An Evening With Simon Armitage, the new Poet Laureate, at Pocklington Arts Centre on November 28.
The Huddersfield-born poet, playwright and novelist, 56, was appointed to his post for ten years earlier this year, succeeding Carol Ann Duffy.
In October 2017, he became the first Professor of Poetry at the University of Leeds; in 2018, he received The Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry and an Ivor Novello Award for song-writing in the BAFTA-winning film Feltham Sings.
“It’s such a privilege to be able to welcome the UK’s new Poet Laureate, Simon Armitage, to our stage,” says Pocklington Arts Centre director Janet Farmer.
“He’s such a celebrated poet of his times, so a chance to spend an evening in his company, within the intimate settings of our auditorium, to hear some of his live poetry and for a Q&A, is a unique opportunity for lovers of literature and poetry.
“But tickets have almost sold out, so I would urge you to book yours quickly or risk missing out .”
After studying geography at Portsmouth Polytechnic and writing an MA thesis at the University of Manchester on the the effects of television violence on young offenders, Armitage gained a social work qualification and became a probation officer, like his father before him. He worked in the Greater Manchester probation service until 1994, apparently once being introduced with the words: “By day he reads them their rights, by night he writes them their reads.”
He has published 28 collections of poetry, his first entitled Human Geography in 1988 and his latest, Sandettie Light Vessel Automatic. He writes extensively for television and radio, as well as penning three memoirs, All Points North, Walking Home and Walking Away, and he is the lead singer of The Scaremongers too.
Tickets for Armitage’s 7.30pm show in Pock cost £12.50 or £7 for under 21s on 01759 301547 or at pocklingtonartscentre.co.uk. He will be on hand to sign books in the foyer afterwards.