AUSTRALIAN guitarist Tommy Emmanuel will play the Grand Opera House, York, on March 6 2022.
This will be the only Yorkshire show of next year’s 12-date tour from February 25 to March 13 with special guest Jerry Douglas, the Ohio dobro master.
Emmanuel, 65, who last played British shows on the Transatlantic Sessions Tour, has performed in public from the age of six, when he first toured regional Australia with his family band.
By 30, he was a rock’n’roll lead guitarist, playing European stadiums. At 44, he became one of only five musicians to be named a Certified Guitar Player by his idol, Chet Atkins. His concerts take him from Nashville to Sydney, London to York next February.
Twice nominated for a GrammyAward, Emmanuel has received two ARIA Awards from the Australian Recording Industry Association and repeated honours in the Guitar Player magazine readers’ poll. In 2017, he was the cover story for the August edition.
Emmanuel is a fingerstyle guitarist, frequently threading three different parts simultaneously into his material as he operates as a one-man band who handles melody, supporting chords and bass all at once.
He never plays the same show twice, improvising big chunks of every gig. In doing so, he “leaves himself open to technical imperfections, although they provide some of the humanity to an other-worldly talent”.
Tickets are on sale at atgtickets.com/venues/grand-opera-house-york/
MIDGE Ure & Band Electronica will open next year’s Voice & Visions Tour at the Grand Opera House, York, on February 22.
Scotsman Ure, 67, will be marking 40 years since the release of Ultravox’s Rage In Eden and Quartet albums in September 1981 and October 1982 respectively.
Ure & Band Electronica last played the Opera House on October 20 2019 on The 1980 Tour, when Ultravox’s 1980 album, Vienna, was performed in its entirety for the first time in four decades, complemented by highlights from Visage’s debut album, as Ure recalled the year when he co-wrote, recorded and produced the two future-sounding records.
Such was the “overwhelming response” to that retro excursion, Ure will reprise the nostalgia trip for 2022’s Voice & Visions Tour.
In the wake of the global success of Vienna, Ultravox headed back into the studio to record their second album with Ure as frontman, Rage In Eden, a top five entry in Autumn 1981, replete with the singles The Thin Wall and The Voice.
Quartet, their third studio set with Ure, arrived in quick succession with production by The Beatles’ producer, George Martin, no less. It became their third top ten album, boosted by four top 20 singles, Reap The Wild Wind, Hymn, Visions In Blue and We Came To Dance.
Voice & Visions will recall the era of Eighties’ electronics, experimentation and synthesisers in a show that will combine both albums’ highlights with landmark songs from Ure’s back catalogue.
Looking forward to his 2022 travels, Ure says: “I can’t begin to tell you how great it will feel to be back out touring and it is especially exciting to delve back in time and revitalise two standout albums from my career, Rage In Eden and Quartet. This is the logical and emotional follow-up to The 1980 Tour.”
Next year’s tour itinerary also will take in Hull Bonus Arena on February 24 and Sheffield City Hall on March 22. Tickets will go on general sale on Friday (22/1/2021): York, at atgtickets.com/york; Hull, bonusarenahull.com; Sheffield, sheffieldcityhall.co.uk.
Ure & Band Electronica will be completing a hattrick of gigs at the Opera House after first appearing there in November 2017, headlining a 1980s’ triple bill with The Christians and Altered Images.
SURREALIST comedian Ross Noble is moving his January 21 2021 gig at the Grand Opera House, York, to January 29 2022.
In his Humournoid show, Noble, 44, asks: “What happens when pure comedy takes human form? What happens when a creature is created and bred to do stand-up?”
“Nobody knows because that isn’t a thing,” says the off-the-cuff Newcastle humorist. What is a thing, he argues, is Ross Noble doing a show. “You can come and see it. This is it,” he urges.
Later this year, Noble’s Humournoid tour is booked into Leeds Town Hall for October 26, rearranged from May 31 2020. Tickets for his 8pm York gig are on sale at atgtickets.com/venues/grand-opera-house-york/; for Leeds, at leedstownhall.co.uk.
Noble, who last visited the Grand Opera House on his El Hablador travels in October 2018, first announced Humournoid, his 17th nationwide tour, would play York on April 30 2020. Here’s hoping for third time lucky.
York Stage in Jack And The Beanstalk, John Cooper Studio, Theatre @41 Monkgate, York, until January 3 2021. Box office: yorkstagepanto.com
THIS is a York pantomime season like none before.
York Theatre Royal has, like a council politician, taken to the wards seeking votes, in this case for the audience choice of Travelling Pantomime. Dame Berwick Kaler’s comeback on board Dick Turpin Rides Again, after his headline-making crosstown transfer to the Grand Opera House, has gone into Covid-enforced hibernation for a year. Likewise, Rowntree Players have taken the winter off.
Yet, what’s this? A newcomer bean-sprouting up at Theatre @41 Monkgate, courtesy of York Stage’s debut pantomime, Jack And The Beanstalk, a show stuffed with West End talent with York and wider Yorkshire roots, bedding in nicely with socially-distanced performances for maximum audiences of 55 at the Covid-secure heart of Monkgateshire.
Once temperature tested at the doors and hands cleansed, you are led up the beanstalk-clad stairway to your brightly-coloured seat in the John Cooper Studio, a black-box theatre here configured as a traverse stage, the bubble-compliant audience sitting to either side or upstairs on the mezzanine level.
Safety division comes in the form of screens, like on Have I Got News For You, giving a different Perspextive on watching a show, but in no way impeding the view. Actors are socially distanced – they exchange elbow greetings; romance is replaced by best friendships – and audience members are close to the stage in this intimate setting, but not too close. The dame does not dispense sweets and we are asked to refrain from shouting.
Not your normal panto, then, in this all-too abnormal year, except that writer-director Nik Briggs’s 2020 vision for pantomime still has all the elements: the song and dance; the puns and punchlines; the slapstick and the transformation scene; the dame (Alex Weatherhill) and Daisy the cow; the drama-queen baddie (Ian Stroughair) and his narcissism; the topical and the local references; the daft wannabe superhero dreamer (Jordan Fox) and the fairy (Livvy Evans); the principal girl (May Tether) and her plain-speaking principles.
Then add the all-action ensemble (Matthew Ives, Danielle Mullan and Emily Taylor) and the band, a trio of musical director Jessica Douglas, fellow keyboard player Sam Johnson and York’s premier league drummer, Clark Howard, parked upstairs but omnipresent and on the button, The Great British Bake Off theme tune et al.
Briggs has called his show “a musical with pantomime braces on”; his choreographer, Gary Lloyd, a big signing from the West End and tour circuit, has coined the term “pansical”. That may suggest a slightly awkward new hybrid, but like the cult rock’n’roll pantomime at Leeds City Varieties, the musical driving force here is a winning addition to the tradition.
Ninety minutes straight through – intervals are so last year – Jack And The Beanstalk is full of beans, lovely to look at and lively too, loud at times but rarely lewd (blame the dame for those “innocent but guilty” moments, met with knowing laughter).
Surprise celebrity cameos pop up on video, and York Mix Radio’s morning team of Ben Fry and Laura Castle provide the pre-recorded countdown chat pre-show.
Briggs is breaking his duck as a pantomime writer, and his script is a little mannered by comparison with the highly experienced Paul Hendy’s way with words for the Travelling Pantomime, but he does know the notes, he does play them in the right order, and the jokes invariably hit home, especially those that play on the Covid conventions of 2020.
His reinvention of the pantomime cow is a particular joy, even if the dame’s nutty slapstick routine is hampered by having to play safe.
Briggs’s characters, bold and playful and bright, will appeal to children and adults alike. The singing is the ace card. What voices, whether Weatherhill’s operatic entry; professional debutante Tether’s arrival as Yorkshire’s next Sheridan Smith with her gift for investing personality in every line or the appealing Fox’s top-notch prowess in big numbers and ballads alike.
Evans’s Fairy Mary is fun and feisty, especially in her battles with Stroughair’s long-fingered, stove-pipe top-hatted Flesh Creep, commanding the stage with that irrepressible swagger and spectacular singing we know from his drag diva, Velma Celli.
You will never have a better chance to see Gary Lloyd’s flamboyant, fab-u-lous choreography so close up it is almost personal, dazzlingly pretty in the transformation scene, bouncing madly on and off trampolines in Stroughair’s high point, Jump (the Van Halen anthem).
Bean there, done that? Not until you have seen this new brand of York pantomime.
Review by BARSTOW TEASDALE. Copyright of The Press, York
EMILY Taylor was cut out for the stage from her first moment in the spotlight at the age of five.
Now the York dance tutor, regular dance captain and choreographer for myriad Grand Opera House pantomimes is starring in York Stage’s debut pantomime, Jack And The Beanstalk.
She forms part of the all-action ensemble with Danielle Mullan and Matthew Ives in writer-director Nik Briggs’s production at the Covid-secure, socially distanced, beanstalk-staired Theatre @41 Monkgate.
Here Emily answers Charles Hutchinson’s scattergun questions on pantomimes past, present and future, heroes, villains and fairies, 2020 and 2021.
What was the first pantomime you ever saw and what do you recall of it?
“Cinderella at the Grand Opera House, York. Frazer Hines was Buttons and I was about five years old. We were seated in a box closest to the stage and in the song sheet, when they asked for children to go up on stage, my Dad lifted me over the edge so I could run up.
“We did I Am The Music Man and they kept me up as the last child to finish it by myself. That was my first ever panto experience and my first ever time on stage.”
What was your first pantomime role?
“Grumpy the dwarf in Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs.”
What has been your favourite pantomime role?
“I’ve LOVED all of my years as a dancer. However, I think covering for Debbie McGee as Fairy in Beauty And The Beast when she was doing Strictly, and getting to work alongside the lovely Lynne McGranger, was a highlight. I really enjoy the acting part of things.”
Who have you not yet played in pantomime that you would love to play and why?
“I’d love to actually play the Fairy for a full run, or at the other end of the scale, an evil queen/baddie role.”
Who is your favourite pantomime performer and why?
“I’ve worked with so many people whose talent I admire and have learnt so much from watching how different people work. As a teenager, I worked with Michael Starke, as the Emperor of China, who was totally professional, hard working, and just a genuinely lovely person. Although, after this show, I feel like I may have some new favourites!”
This year’s pantomime will be an experience like no other…what are your expectations of performing a show in these strange circumstances?
“This year’s show is already filled with so much joy and appreciation from us all as a cast. I’m hoping the audience will share that joy with us – everyone will just be so happy to see live theatre again.
“The performance space is much more intimate here, which brings a whole new element to it.”
Which pantomime role should Boris Johnson play and why?
“Hmmmmm…maybe the Genie of the Ring. They often have a lot of power but are not quite sure how to use it in the best way. A difficult situation to be in!”
Who or what has been the villain of 2020?
Who or what has been the fairy of 2020?
“Nik Briggs. 100 per cent!!!!!”
How would you sum up 2020 in five words?
“Enlightening. Chance to re-evaluate priorities.”
What are your wishes for 2021?
“For Covid to be under control or, even better, be gone completely, so that I can give my Mum and Dad a hug! I also want to perform as much as possible if I can. 2020 has certainly cemented just how much I love the theatre.”
What are your hopes for the world of theatre in 2021?
“For theatre to return quickly and safely and things to get back to normal, but with a whole new level of appreciation, as soon as possible.”
York Stage presents Jack And The Beanstalk at Theatre @41 Monkgate, York, until January 3 2021.
Show times: December 15 and 16, 7pm; December 18, 7pm (sold out); December 19, 11am, 2pm (sold out) and 7pm; December 20, 11am, 1pm (sold out) and 6pm; December 21, 7pm; December 22, 2pm (sold out) and 7pm; December 23, 11am, 2pm (sold out) and 7pm; Christmas Eve, December 24, 11am, 1pm (sold out) and 5pm (sold out).
Boxing Day, December 26, 11am, 2pm (sold out) and 7pm; December 27, 11am, 1pm (sold out) and 6pm; December 28, 11am, 2pm (sold out) and 7pm; December 29 and 30, 2pm and 7pm; New Year’s Eve, December 31, 12 noon.
Box office: online only at yorkstagepanto.com. Please note, audiences will be seated in household/support bubble groupings only.
STRICTLY Xmas Live In The Park, with a singalong songsheet led by York pantomime perennial Martin Barrass, is off.
Organiser Lesley Jones confirmed the cancellation of Sunday’s open-air Bev Jones Music Company show at the Rowntree Park amphitheatre on Facebook.
“It is with huge sadness I have had to cancel the Xmas Concert on Sunday 13th. External circumstances forced the decision,” she revealed.
“However, we will be singing at Tesco, Askham Bar, on Saturday 19th and Sunday 20th December from 1.30pm. Look out for our 2021 calendar. Thank you all as ever.”
In an earlier post, she wrote: “For many, many reasons we are beaten in this strangest of years! We must confess that we have taken the hardest decision to cancel our Strictly Live In The Park.
“You all know how I do always my best to give you the show I promise, but Covid, Tiers, illness, personal etc etc….force the decision.
“All ticket monies will be refunded in full. Roll on 2021. Keep in touch, join our Bev Jones Music Group page to find out what’s next.”
On November 29, Lesley had expressed excitement at the upcoming show’s progress. “Only two weeks to go! Tier 2 means we have the green light and we are good to go!” she posted
Strictly Xmas Live in The Park would have added up to a “3 in 1 Xmas experience” with Christmas songs through the decades, carols by candlelight and a one-of-a-kind, specially written pantomime, Once Upon A Pud.
Martin Barrass, Dame Berwick’s stalwart comic stooge, was already missing out on the Covid-cancelled Kaler comeback in Dick Turpin Rides Again at the Grand Opera House. Now he has to forego leading the pantomime section of Strictly Xmas Live In The Park on Sunday afternoon too.
In the Covid-secure, socially distanced performance, Martin would have reactivated his first ever song-sheet in a York Theatre Royal panto – all about Yorkshire Puddings – as well as telling a few seasonal jokes.
Joining him in the festive concert’s panto sequence would have been Melissa Boyd’s Princess, Terry Ford’s villain and Charlotte Wood’s Silly Billy, plus a Dame, Fairy Godmother, Prince Charming and Jack Ass.
Favourite Christmas songs, such as Santa Baby, Jingle Bell Rock and Band Aid’s Do They Know It’s Christmas?, and a visit from Father Christmas were in Sunday’s programme too. All audience members were to be temperature tested on arrival and placed into family private bubble areas.
Rehearsals were booked in for Rufforth Institute Hall, socially distanced and under a full Covid risk assessment.
ALEX Weatherhill took a call from York Stage artistic director Nik Briggs in the quietude of September.
“How do you fancy getting your dame on this Christmas,” asked Nik, having decided he would stage a pantomime at Theatre @ 41 Monkgate to close out a year blighted by the Coronavirus pandemic.
The sight of Alex in full dame attire and face paint at the October 30 photocall to launch Jack And The Beanstalk provided the answer to that request.
“Right now, I would normally be in Spain, as quite often I do a guest musical-directing spot for the Institute of Arts in Barcelona,” he said that autumn day. “I very luckily have managed to get on board to do projects there three times with their second and third-year students, then flying back to go straight into working on pantos.”
Alas, this accursed year has been different, however. No musical directing in Barcelona, nor his usual pantomime commitments for Paul Holman Associates. “I’ve been a musical director for Paul, including for pantomimes at The Carriageworks in Leeds, and then, four years ago, I made the move across to director,” says Alex.
“I directed the panto [at the Spotlight] in Hoddesdon, in Hertfordshire, for three years and I was due to direct Sleeping Beauty at The Harlequin Theatre in Redhill, Surrey, this winter until it was cancelled.”
Hence the September call from Nik Briggs, inviting him to make the journey from his home in Speeton, the easternmost village in North Yorkshire, on the cliff top between Filey and Bridlington, to be Dame Trott in Jack And The Beanstalk.
“I would last have been on a York stage for York Stage Musicals in Priscilla, Queen Of The Desert,” says Alex, recalling his drag-queen role as Bernadette at the Grand Opera House. “It was so much fun to do, but very intense.”
He is no stranger to wearing women’s clothing on stage. “I’ve played a lot of middle-aged ladies: the number is probably running into double figures by now, so I suppose it was inevitable I would play dame one day,” says Alex.
“But I’d shied away from it, as it’s a role unto itself, particularly here in York, with all the history of Berwick Kaler’s shows, but now I’m looking forward to it, my first time as the dame, and any trepidation will go during rehearsals.”
Reflecting on past roles, Alex says: “Everything that I’ve done has been character acting, almost trying to fool the audience so they don’t know they’re watching a man playing a woman, starting with Mary Sunshine in Chicago, where there’s no drag element to it. You are there to trick the audience. The way of becoming a woman for that role is very different from playing the pantomime dame.”
Alex has been settling on his brand of dame “who happens to be in Jack And The Beanstalk this year”. “I’m drawing on Patricia Routledge, Maureen Lipman and Julie Walters as my influences, so Nik has been writing with those influences and mannerisms in mind, and they’ll come out in my voice and movements,” he says.
Routledge crossed with Lipman and Walters? What fabulous fun awaits!
York Stage presents Jack And The Beanstalk at Theatre @41 Monkgate, York, from December 11 to January 3; show times, Monday to Saturday, 2pm and 7pm; Sundays, 1pm and 6pm; Christmas Eve, 12 noon and 5pm; New Year’s Eve, 12 noon. Box office: online only at yorkstagepanto.com. Please note, audiences will be seated in household/support bubble groupings only.
Jacob Husband, as Adam, front, Alex Weatherhill, as Bernadette, and Joe Wawrzyniak, as Tick, in York Stage Musicals’ Priscilla Queen Of The Desert, The Musical, at the Grand Opera House, York. Picture: Benedict Tomlinson. September 2017
A VILLAGE red phone box near York will house probably Britain’s smallest performance on Halloween night.
Dr Christopher Newell, from the digital media department at the University of Hull, sent an intriguing email to CharlesHutchPress out of the blue on Tuesday morning.
“You may remember me as a very short-lived artistic director of the Grand Opera House. What a fiasco that was!” it started, triggering memories of Chris tempting fate by opening the Cumberland Street theatre after its £4 million renovation with a Balinese version of Macbeth, theatre’s most unlucky play, on September 28 1989.
Sure enough, within two years, the theatre gods had played their accursed Macbeth hand, and the Grand Opera House closed so suddenly, crippled by mounting debts, that staff arrived to find the doors locked.
“Anyway, here I am years later, bit of an academic, bit of a cancer patient, bit of a director – with a project to share,” the email continued.
“This Saturday, Halloween night, at 8:00 I will broadcast a 20-minute audio collage of very personal detritus, truth and lies from a telephone box outside my house near York, using a computer-generated version of my voice.
“The audience will probably be one, me.”
Explaining the audio collage content, Chris wrote: “I guess it’s something to do with ghosts, it’s certainly timed to be so. When I was diagnosed with incurable cancer, I thought I had had it.
“I wanted to make a show and as my academic specialism is computer-generated speech and how it relates to acting, I built myself a stage. I bought a phone box and set about equipping it with technology from 1937, the year it was built, and cutting-edge speech synthesis provide by colleagues in Edinburgh.
“An obsession was born that has kept me happy through several bouts of chemo and extended periods of lying in bed. I have been tinkering for five years and on Saturday it goes live. I think this is interesting, do you?”
CharlesHutchPress does indeed, and so a list of questions has been fired off to Chris – rather than taking a call in the aforementioned phone box – to discover more.
Where is the telephone box near York?
“Outside my house.” (Chris preferred not to reveal the location but here is a clue: think of a rosy autumn fruit and a deer).
On what medium will you broadcast…and how can people tune in?
“It’s on a web radio channel, GISS Global Internet Streaming Support: a platform for experimentation and research on free technologies in the era of internet media.”
Is this the smallest arts space you could ever perform in?
“I can’t think of a smaller one but there is bound to be someone who has performed in a barrel or something.”
After Halloween, what happens to the recording?
“I will make it available from my website and then continue to add new performances of new material at Christmas, Easter, Midsummer. I dislike rituals and festivals, so this is my attempt at a subversive counter culture. Yo Ho Ho.”
What does Halloween mean to you?
“Not being dead yet but I thought I was about to be – phew! I am obsessed with Thomas Edison’s paper on The Realms Beyond: he thought he could make a machine to communicate with the dead – I reckon I have.”
On a technical level, how do you computer-generate your voice? Does it change your voice?
“No. It uses parameters from your real voice to remap them to a computer-generated clone. It’s mega-clever, done by my colleagues at CereProc [a speech synthesis company based in Edinburgh], not by me.
“It means the voice can say all the things I can’t – of course, sometimes it can’t say the things I can – this is both a literal and metaphorical statement.”
What are you required to do to maintain the condition of the vintage phone box?
“Not let if freeze – it’s amazingly resistant to extreme weather. It’s got some electronics in it that I have to fix from time to time; paint it every three years; polish the woodwork; chuck out the spiders.”
Is it locked or permanently open?
“Currently I can’t let people in – hence the broadcast – but up until Covid people could pop in any time and did.”
Looking back, did you ever regret your bravura decision to open the Grand Opera House, after 33 years without a play there, with the ever ill-fated Macbeth?
“Not as much as I regretted taking the job at all – I was not the right person. It wasn’t Macbeth that did for it; it was combo of me and the people who owned it.”
MARTIN Barrass will be starring in a York pantomime after all this winter.
Dame Berwick’s perennial comic stooge may be missing out on the Covid-cancelled Kaler comeback in Dick Turpin Rides Again at the Grand Opera House, but now he will lead the pantomime section of Strictly Xmas Live In The Park.
Presented by the Bev Jones Music Company in a Covid-secure, socially distanced, open-air performance at the Rowntree Park Amphitheatre, the show will be a one-off on Sunday, December 13 at 2pm.
“I met Lesley Jones, widow of the formidable York producer and director Bev Jones, five or six weeks ago about doing a Christmas show to get people out and about on a crisp winter’s day,” says Martin.
“I’m thrilled to be taking part, and if you’re wondering why I’m wearing black and pink in the publicity picture, they were Bev’s favourite colours.”
Producer Lesley says: “We are delighted to welcome Martin into our company for this special guest appearance and he fits in so well to the company personality. He will lead the audience in the Christmas song with a drop-down song sheet.”
“I’ve chosen the first song-sheet I ever did at the Theatre Royal…about Yorkshire Puddings!” reveals Martin, as he breaks into song from memory: “‘You can’t beat a better bit of batter on your platter than a good old Yorkshire Pud!’
“I did that with Berwick in Sinbad The Sailor in 1984, and I always remember thinking, ‘Are they going to respond?’, but of course they did!” Nobody does it batter, Martin!
Expect a few seasonal jokes too from Barrass, who will be joined in the festive concert’s panto sequence by Melissa Boyd’s Princess, Terry Ford’s villain and Charlotte Wood’s Silly Billy.
“In addition, we’ll have the Dame, the Fairy Godmother, Prince Charming, Jack Ass and other characters,” says Lesley.
“The concert will include all the favourite Christmas songs, such as Santa Baby, Jingle Bell Rock and Band Aid’s Do They Know It’s Christmas?, as well as the fun panto section for all the family.
“There’ll be a visit from Santa Claus for all the children, followed by a moving Carols By Candlelight finale, encouraging a sing-along for everyone.”
Rowntree Park Amphitheatre will play host to a non-alcoholic Festive Mulled Wine Van, selling hot drinks for all the family, whether tea, coffee, hot apple juice or children’s drinks, served with light complimentary snacks.
Rehearsals will be held at Rufforth Institute Hall , socially distanced and under a full Covid risk assessment.
All audience members will be temperature tested on arrival and placed into family private bubble areas.
DAME Berwick Kaler’s pantomime, Dick Turpin, will NOT Ride Again at the Grand Opera House, York, this Christmas.
Faced by the Government’s decision not to remove social-distancing requirements for theatres amid the rise in Covid-19 infections, Ambassador Theatre Group and pantomime producers Qdos Entertainment are moving Dick Turpin Rides Again to December 2021/January 2022.
Dame Berwick and his regular team of villain David Leonard, comic stooge Martin Barrass, perennial principal gal Suzy Cooper and luverly Brummie A J Cooper were to have made their Grand Opera House pantomime debut this winter after their headline-making, bittersweet crosstown transfer from York Theatre Royal.
In an official statement today, Kaler said: “Having secured the backing of the world’s leading pantomime producer Qdos, and knowing their commitment to save our acclaimed panto, I’m devastated that our loyal audience is going to have to wait until next year to see what we had planned for them.
“Hence, I would like to extend my heartfelt thanks to Qdos and the wonderful staff of the York Grand Opera House who welcomed myself, Martin, Suzy, AJ and David with open arms. Dick Turpin will ride again for Christmas 2021. It’s a long time to wait for a laugh but I can assure you it will be worth it, and we’ll all be at the Grand Opera House to greet you all.”
Rachel Lane, theatre director of the Cumberland Street theatre, added: “With the current Government guidance still unclear on when venues can open without social distancing in place, we have decided with our pantomime partner Qdos Entertainment to postpone the production of Dick Turpin Rides Again until Christmas 2021.
“We’re delighted that Berwick, Martin, Suzy, AJ and David are still able to join us next year. We’ll contact customers directly in due course to move their bookings on a year; they don’t need to take any action at this stage.”
Dame Berwick, who will turn 74 on October 31, had played the Theatre Royal dame over a 40-year span before making his grand exit in The Grand Old Dame Of York, waving goodbye in February 2019, but Britain’s longest-serving dame regretted his decision, even more so when he wrote and co-directed last winter’s show, Sleeping Beauty, wherein Barrass played the nearest role to a dame, The Queen.
Dame Berwick made an impromptu, emotional speech to the last-night home crowd on January 25 in an atmosphere increasingly akin to a bear pit, in the wake of executive director Tom Bird and the board’s decision to break the chain after more than four decades of the distinctive Kaler brand of pantomime comic mayhem.
Only five days later, the switch to the Grand Opera House was announced, and the familiar five assembled on February 14 to launch ticket sales for Dick Turpin Rides Again, a new beginning for comeback-dame Kaler and the Grand Opera House alike, in tandem with Britain’s biggest pantomime producer, Qdos.
On February 3, York Theatre Royal announced a new partnership with Evolution Pantomimes, regular pantomime award winners who duly chalked up another success, taking home the Best Panto award [for750 to 1,500-seat theatres] for Cinderella at Sheffield Lyceum in the 2020 Great British Pantomime Awards.
Scripted by Evolution director and producer Paul Hendy, Cinderella would have been the new partners’ debut show at the Theatre Royal until Covid-19 enforced a change of plan. Hendy will now write scripts for three pantomimes, Aladdin, Dick Whittington and Jack And The Beanstalk, for the York Theatre Royal Travelling Pantomime.
The tour starring York actor, panto comic turn and magician Josh Benson, will take in all 21 York wards in December and January, when audience members at each show will vote for which show they want to see.