DAME Berwick Kaler, David Leonard, Martin Barrass, Suzy Cooper and AJ Powell are into the final week of their second pantomime at the Grand Opera House, York.
The Adventures Of Old Granny Goose ends on Sunday in Berwick’s first variation on a Mother Goose theme since his Millennium pantomime, Old Mother Millie, at York Theatre Royal.
“That one gave me a panic attack,” he admitted. “There was no story, and it wasn’t based on a fairytale. To my surprise, we ended up being the only theatre doing a millennium-based panto!”
No such palpitations this time: Berwick completed his script by 6am on December 1, giving the writer, director and dowager dame plenty of rehearsal time to hone it with his regular team.
“It will either work or it won’t, but I still feel as fit as a fiddle, though I can’t jump through any more windows, but we make sure routines are properly done,” he said that day.
“I’m ageing up for the part,” joked Berwick, 76, as the Old Mother turned into the Old Granny. “I just think we can have a lot of fun with the audience about getting older. They know my age, Martin and Suzy’s age, playing my son and daughter, so each year I make them younger,” he says.
Surrounded by familiar faces, Berwick does have one new factor this year: the role of UK Productions as the Grand Opera House panto producers for the first time. “They’re the second largest panto company in the country, and they do know the history of our pantomime,” he says.
No Covid restrictions, no masks, means Berwick can revel in interaction with the audience once more. “Last year, we could only hear the laughter, not see the smiles,” he said. “But this year, I can go down the steps from the stage, get out to the audience, and I’m only interested in doing the show if I can still do that because there has to be ad-libbing.”
The Adventures Of Old Granny Goose runs at Grand Opera House, York, until Sunday. Performances: 2pm and 7pm, Thursday, Friday and Saturday; 1pm and 7pm, Sunday. Box office: atgtickets.com/York