HAVE you ever wondered who was “The Coppergate Woman”, whose remains are displayed in a glass case in the JORVIK Viking Centre in York after being discovered in a shallow pit by the River Foss.
One of only two full skeletons on show from the archaeological dig, she features in model form in the Coppergate visitor attraction, her identity unknown, but now she is to be “brought back to life in modern-day York” in this summer’s York Theatre Royal community project.
Directed by creative director Juliet Forster and associate artist John R Wilkinson, the storytelling show is being written by Hull playwright Maureen Lennon, fleshing out the very barest of bones for four interlinking stories to be performed by a community ensemble of between 80 and 100 from July 30 to August 6 on the main stage.
This week, working in partnership with JORVIK, the Theatre Royal issued a call-out for people to participate in the production, both backstage and on stage, where the company will be led by a yet-to-be-confirmed professional actor in the title role.
Performers, musicians and those keen to work in stage management, wardrobe, lighting, props, marketing, fundraising and front-of-house are asked to visit yorktheatreroyal.co.uk for details of how to sign up for roles on and off stage.
Explaining how she came to write the play, Maureen says: “Juliet approached me to say they were thinking of doing a community show that engaged with York’s Viking history and how stories of our ancestors might bridge the gap between their world and our world. How might they have an impact on how we live now, and what could we learn from each other?”
Juliet recalls: “The idea came from thinking about the importance of storytelling in our world and how do we draw people together. The Vikings were storytellers and I started thinking about the Vikings because it’s an area we as a theatre had not explored before and is a very interesting part of our history.
“I’d seen Maureen’s early play Bare Skin On Briny Waters at the 2017 Edinburgh Fringe and invited her company, Bellow Theatre, to bring it to the Theatre Royal Studio in 2018. She felt the right fit for the play we wanted to do this summer, but we’d never met in person until Monday this week!”
Maureen was delighted to receive the Theatre Royal commission. “Growing up in Hull, I used to really love going to JORVIK as a child, when although it was a museum, it felt like going to a theme park,” she says. “I hadn’t been back for years, but then revisited it to research for the play and I got really interested in the Coppergate Woman.”
Being confronted by her skeleton was a real example of two worlds meeting, says Maureen. “That’s the privilege of storytelling: we get to imagine her story, thinking about who she might have been and what she might say of our world.
“She’s in our world now, whether she likes it or not. I wondered if she was lonely. I wondered who she had been and what she would think about me staring at her now. It felt intimate and yet so much about her was unknown.
“I wanted to give her the power to look at us just like I was looking at her in that moment. I wanted her to speak – although obviously in reality I’m glad she didn’t.”
This summer’s play was always envisaged as a project that talked about community, togetherness, and the power of storytelling in our societies, in light of the pandemic, says Maureen.
“That was the jumping-off point for The Coppergate Woman, which weaves myth with contemporary stories. The Vikings had an end-of-the-world story in their mythology, Ragnarok, and in our tale the Coppergate Woman is awakened to try to help four people of York live through their own version of Ragnarok. It’s about hope and heartache and loss – and starting again, together.”
Co-director John R Wilkinson says: “It’s been five years since we last did one of our community plays, but given all that’s gone on in the past couple of years, it’s really necessary and heartening to be able to bring people together again, this time through a storytelling piece.
“I would argue that storytelling has become a slightly underappreciated artform, so it’s interesting to be able to explore it in a community play.”
Maureen says: “Storytelling has a flexibility to it that’s perfect for this show, because it’s not a show about one person but about the people of York, who take part in the story as a chorus of ‘Norns’, storytellers who operate in a similar way to the Fates in Greek mythology.”
Juliet rejoins: “That makes it distinctly different from any community production we’ve done in the past. We’ve gone back to the bare bones to conjure a world just with words. That act of coming together collectively to tell a story is something we’ve been really lacking.”
John concurs: “There seems to be a trend for trying to compete with streamed shows, but theatre should be about accentuating its strengths: that live interconnection between performers and the audience through direct storytelling.”
The last word goes to Maureen, who says: “The Coppergate Woman is a chance to tell a different story about the Viking community when we tend to associate them with invasion, violence and horns.”
The Vikings built bridges in the city, just as her community play builds bridges between York’s past and present through storytelling.
Tickets for The Coppergate Woman will go on sale next month with more details to follow.
YORK Theatre Royal’s pantomime resumes tomorrow for its final run of shows after a Covid-enforced week off.
Positive tests among cast members and understudies meant the management was seeking its fourth Cinderella when the decision was made to stop the revolving door of replacements and extra rehearsals.
Now, Cinderella will be going to the ball again, extra shows and all, until January 2, and among those returning to the stage will be Andy Day’s Dandini, Faye Campbell’s Cinderella, Benjamin Lafayette’s Prince Charming and ventriloquist Max Fulham’s Buttons (along with his dummy, the cheeky monkey Gordon).
CBeebies’ presenter Andy Day had already made one appearance in York this year before Cinderella…with his band, Andy And The Oddsocks. “We did nine festivals this year – we usually do loads of shows over the festival season – and among those getting in touch was York Balloon Fiesta, where we played in late-August,” he says.
“It was one of our favourites gigs, playing next to the racecourse. I’d been to York only a couple of times before, but my dad is a massive fan of York, so he’s coming to see the panto. He’s not bothered about seeing me, just seeing York!”
Andy is performing in his sixth panto for York Theatre Royal’s pantomime partners, Evolution Productions. “The first one I did for them was Cinderella: that was the last time I did Cinderella, playing Dandini that time too, in St Albans,” he says, going on to recall making his panto debut at 21 as the Genie in Aladdin in Ilford.
Andy is synonymous with CBeebies, not only as a presenter but as an actor too. “I was very fortunate to get into kids’ TV 16 years ago. I always wanted to do that; that was my aim when I was doing stuff at the Millennium Dome and theatre in education in Italy, which I really enjoyed.
“From there, I got an audition for CBeebies, and out of 2,000 applicants, I got down to the last 11, and it just so happened I was different to the others and so I was chosen.”
His wide-eyed expressions, affability, strong singing voice and bond with children make him a natural for pantomime. “The great thing about Evolution pantomimes – and I love Paul Hendy’s writing – is that they really are a show for everyone, making it my favourite form of family entertainment, because parents can enjoy it as much as their children,” Andy says. “Good comedy, good music, something for the adults, and then there’s the magic of it all, especially in Cinderella.”
Andy has worked with Cinderella director Juliet Forster previously, having appeared in her TV production of CBeebies Presents: Romeo And Juliet, premiered in April. “They’re always great fun to do,” he says. “I’d done The Tempest and A Midsummer Night’s Dream before, and though I don’t class myself as a Shakespearean actor, it’s really nice to do the roles and enjoy Shakespeare – and Juliet is a real joy to work with.
“I played Lord Capulet, after I was Caliban in The Tempest: I always seem to play the slightly nasty one, whether in CBeebies’ pantos or Shakespeare! Though I was Peter Quince, one of the Mechanicals, in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, so that was a humorous role.”
Luton-born Andy is making his York Theatre Royal debut at 40, but where might his pantomime ambitions lead him next? “I’d love to play Captain Hook [in Peter Pan] one day. That would be my dream panto role,” he says.
Faye Campbell tweeted her excitement at returning to York today to prepare for tomorrow afternoon’s resumption of stage business. Just as she had been excited at landing the title role. “I got a first taste of working with Juliet last year when I was in the Travelling Pantomime that we took around the city.
“We did a few performances on the main stage at the start and the end of the run, putting the Travelling Pantomime set on that stage, so I have been on a ‘stage’ on that stage before!”
Faye previously did a school tour of Snow White in late 2018, in the title role. “It was similar to the Travelling Pantomime, going to community centres and primary schools for hour-long performances,” she recalls. “Now, Cinderella is my first panto on a theatre main stage.”
As a child, Faye went to pantomimes at Wolverhampton Grand Theatre (and sometimes at Birmingham Hippodrome too). “We used to go every year, and it was my first experience of theatre, as it is for many families,” she says.
“That’s why panto is so special for everyone: they go to pantomimes, even if they don’t go to anything else. Pantomime is more accessible, which I think is important.”
When Faye does not have an acting commitment, she works at Wolverhampton Grand Theatre as an usher. “For a lot of people in the industry, we can’t pretend work has not been slow or hard to get, but it’s just exciting to see theatres re-opening – and it’s very emotional for theatres to be able to present pantomimes again,” she says.
Her Cinderella fits the 21st century style of the Theatre Royal and Evolution co-production. “I’m playing her more as an independent, modern-day woman,” says Faye. “I think it’s important to represent a strong, independent woman today, with the same themes as before but with an edge to her.”
Benjamin Lafayette could not have had a more contrasting start to his professional career, first making his debut in the title role in Shakespeare’s tragedy Othello at The Mill Theatre, Dundrum, South Dublin, followed by his pantomime bow as Prince Charming in Cinderella.
“This is my first time in York, my first time working with Evolution Productions,” says Benjamin, continuing the theme of firsts. “It came about through my agent. I got the call in a busy period because I’d just found out I was going to do Othello in Dublin.
“I was already packing my bags, and then my agent said, ‘Oh, I have an audition for you for a pantomime’. I’d never done a panto, but I’m the kind of person who will give anything a shot’.”
His audition negotiated successfully, Benjamin headed off to Dublin, and then briefly to York. “The launch day for Cinderella was during my rehearsals for Othello, so I flew in and out on the same day,” he says. “I’d just rehearsed Othello’s final scene, and then had to fly in and be…charming at the Theatre Royal launch!”
What an experience was in store for him under the direction of Geoff O’Keefe in Dublin. “Safe to say, I was exhausted after every show, doing two performances a day after the intensive rehearsal period,” he recalls.
“There was no hiding place; there was so much to do, but it was brilliant. I’m still quite young, and playing Othello so young, at 24, was really special to do so early in my career. It was a real learning experience and I’ve really grown as an actor, realising the importance of different stage crafts.”
Performing in a cast with seven Irish actors, alongside Michael Ford from Surrey, Birmingham-born Benjamin drew good reviews – or so he was told. “I really try not to read them at the time, but from what my family and friends said, it went really well,” he says.
Benjamin completed his Othello run on October 22, and when he began rehearsals in York in November, doing pantomime initially “felt really foreign”, but gradually “the glitter of it all” took over.
“Prince Charming is seen as one of the ‘straight’ panto characters but we’ve been given licence by Juliet to have fun with our characters, which is an actor’s dream,” he says. “There are definitely moments of wanting to be part of the joke.”
Plenty of the humour in Cinderella emanates from Max Fulham and his irrepressible Monkey in the ventriloquist’s York Theatre Royal debut.
Already he has a prestigious award to his name: Best Speciality Act at the Great British Pantomime Awards from his 2019-2020 season in Aladdin at the Churchill Theatre, Bromley. “Because of lockdown, I received that award at home, eating crisps, getting a nice little trophy,” says Max. “I was in such esteemed company: I think we beat Sooty and a dance group.”
He began doing ventriloquism – talking with his mouth closed – at the age of nine. “The puppet came first. I’ve always loved puppets, and I’m from the era where it’s not like I saw someone doing a ventriloquist act at a theatre. No, I saw a video on YouTube,” says Max.
“I typed in ‘puppet’, watched a ventriloquist, watched some more, old and new, and I became obsessed with everything, from Paul Zerdin and Jeff Dunham to the earlier talents of Arthur Worsley and Ray Alan, who was the master technique-wise. Phenomenal.”
Max first acquired a monkey puppet when he was ten. “I named him Gordon and he stayed with me as I developed routines, starting to do children’s parties when I was 12/13, in Farnham, after we’d moved from Scotland, where I’d lived from when I was four to 11,” he says.
“I grew up there watching acts at the Edinburgh Fringe every summer, which made me think ‘I could do this’. I used to do shows for my grandmother when my parents were out at work, and I did my first paid gig for £25 when I was 12 for old people in a hall at a New Year’s party.”
Max performed his ventriloquist act throughout his school years. “Yes, of course I was seen as an oddball as I was talking to myself, though comedy is a social survival mechanism for us oddballs,” he says.
“It meant I could entertain people and I’ve always loved making people laugh. Now I can be a professional oddball, and a professional twit is a good thing to be. I like being unusual!”
Max was still in the sixth form when he did his first pantomime in 2017. “I was just turning 18, and I’d just learned to drive and had to drive from Surrey to Lincolnshire, so that was a baptism of fire, as was doing pantomime, because it’s so full-on. It’s great fun but it demands a lot of hard work,” he says.
He has performed in panto each winter since that Spalding debut, taking him to Cambridge, Bromley and the Garrick Theatre in Lichfield last year. “We managed to do our rehearsals for Jack And The Beanstalk, but saw what was developing, so we did a film version that was then streamed online when the performances were cancelled,” Max says.
Thankfully, this winter, Fulham has been able to perform to the Max in Cinderella…until the Covid outbreak in the cast intervened, but now the show can go on again in the finishing straight.
Cinderella’s remaining performances at York Theatre Royal: Thursday, 2.30pm, 7pm; Friday, 11am, 3pm; Saturday and Sunday, 1pm, 5.30pm. Tickets are available for all shows on 01904 623568 or at yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.
UPDATE at 1.55pm on December 30
EVERYONE from the Cinderella principal cast is back on stage today except for Sarah Leatherbarrow. Amy Hammond, from the ensemble, will deputise as the Fairy.
Guitarist and bass player Luke Gaul is the musical director in place of Stephen ‘Stretch’ Price. Christian Mortimer, from the ensemble, is missing too. All three absences are Covid-related.
DIRECTOR Juliet Forster first noted Robin Simpson and Paul Hawkyard’s stage chemistry when they played two of the Rude Mechanicals in her Shakespeare’s Rose Theatre production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream in York in July 2018.
Now York Theatre Royal’s creative director has cast them us unruly stepsisters Manky and Mardy in Cinderella.
Both have dame roles in their panto locker, Robin last year donning the frocks for the Theatre Royal’s Travelling Pantomime, having appeared in the Lawrence Batley Theatre panto in Huddersfield in the past few years.
“I was never under contract though; it was always just a case of them giving me a call early in the year, so it was a very free and easy arrangement,” he says.
Last Christmas, the Huddersfield panto was cancelled, and so Robin was able to continue an association with York Theatre Royal that began with The Little Mermaid in 2005 by appearing in Juliet and Evolution Productions’ writer-producer Paul Hendy’s first collaboration, the Travelling Pantomime.
“It was a lovely script and such a lovely show to do, when we were all so happy to be in that situation of being able to perform when so many places were in Tier 3, but there we were in Tier 2, taking every day as a blessing, testing every other day, but still worrying that it would be shut down or that someone would test positive,” he says.
“We were always living on a knife edge, but we got through most of the run and we had such a blast because people were delighted they could see a show again and were so happy to see their children enjoying themselves.”
Lawrence Batley Theatre’s creative team changed with a new chief exec coming in; likewise, York Theatre Royal was looking to move on from Berwick Kaler’s 40-year damehood.
“Both theatres were starting afresh, and with me facing a choice, I thought it would be a good time for me to move on, as they could start with a clean slate at Huddersfield, and performing in York always feels like coming home,” says Robin, who lives in Slaithwaite, near Huddersfield.
“York Theare Royal is such a wonderful theatre and I’ve done so many shows on that stage. I think York is the city I’ve worked in the most, playing at the National Railway Museum and Shakespeare’s Rose Theatre as well.”
Paul Hawkyard, standing somewhat taller and wider than Robin at 6ft 2, was born and raised in Leeds, and, as chance would have had it, he had just moved back to Yorkshire after many years of living down south when the opportunity to appear alongside him in Cinderella came about.
“We’d loved being in the Scottish play [Macbeth] and A Midsummer Night’s Dream together in 2018,” he recalls. “Robin played the Wall in ‘the Wall Play’, I played Bottom, and we’d bring the show to a stop on numerous occasions, getting told to stop doing that!
“We were neighbours in the dressing room and got on so well, putting the world to rights, waiting for our cues, scrambling to the stage, so it’s lovely to be doing this show together.”
Actor and wildlife artist Paul has shed four stones since first playing Bottom. “I got diabetes and I packed in everything after that. I started the Blenheim Palace production in 2019 at one size and ended it at another. I don’t think the costume lady was very pleased!” he says of his fitness regime. “I started doing boxing workouts again and I’m no longer in the diabetic range.”
Paul subsequently left behind Bordon, Hampshire, for a new beginning in Selby. “Covid kicked in hard, and that was a big factor in deciding to return north. It meant I could come back because a lot of auditions are done on Zoom now, so you’re in a position where you don’t have to live in or near to London,” he says.
“I had a look around a lot of areas in Yorkshire and settled on Selby. I’d only been there once before, but I just wanted to be somewhere near York, as I love the place, and Selby is just down the road. I saw the house and that was it!”
Weight loss, house move, and now Paul has become engaged too, to Nicola Filshie. “I decided to marry the girl I’ve known for 26 years, who lives in Glasgow, so I spend a time a lot of time going up there. We’ve worked together a few times, and now we’ll be marrying next October,” he says.
Paul contacted Juliet Forster before making the move to Selby. “I said I was moving to Yorkshire and it would be lovely to see her, asking her to keep me in mind if anything came up.”
Lo and behold, up came the Ugly Stepsister partnership with Simpson in Cinderella. “We are very different,” says Paul. “He’s quietly brilliant and I’m very loud!”
Making his professional debut in pantomime, he first played Simple Simon in a Pantoni Productions show in his early 20s and has since appeared as Buttons, assorted dames and even the villainous Abanazar out in Dubai.
By comparison, Robin has always played dame. “Maybe a lot of dames see themselves as appealing to the adults, with the comedian turn for the children, but I’ve never thought of it like that. You have to appeal to everyone. I don’t want to alienate children,” he says.
Somehow, this even applies when playing the outwardly unappealing, antagonistic stepsisters Manky and Mardy. Robin and Paul may enter each time to ever more raucous jeering, but they are lovably absurd, boastful villains, mean but funny. “Aren’t we brilliant?” they jest. They are, as it happens!
COVID UPDATE 23/12/2021
NO performances of Cinderella from December 23 for a week after a Covid outbreak among cast members. Provisionally, the production will resume on December 30, with two extra performances being added to the run that ends on January 2. Box office: 01904 623568 or at yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.
YORK freelance choreographer and movement director Hayley Del Harrison’s creativity can be seen at the double this festive season.
Not only has she choreographed York Theatre Royal and Evolution Productions’ effervescent pantomime Cinderella, up and running until January 2, but also CBeebies Presents: The Night Before Christmas.
Already this CBeebies Christmas show has made its cinema debut on November 28, and the TV launch on the Beeb will come rather sooner than the night before Christmas: Saturday, December 11 to be precise.
This is her second CBeebies project of the year, having worked with York Theatre Royal creative director (and Cinderella director) Juliet Forster on CBeebies Presents: Romeo And Juliet, filmed at Leeds Playhouse.
More on the Theatre Royal pantomime later, but first, Hayley, 50, recalls working on the CBeebies Christmas show from late-September through to October 10 in Plymouth, working under pandemic constraints that meant the company had to be put up in a hotel in social bubbles.
“We had the whole of the Plymouth Theatre Royal building to ourselves and the TR2 rehearsal room too,” she says.
“No-one else was allowed into the space because we knew the risk was too great. We had only that short window to rehearse it, a short window to film it, and that’s why we were so strict.
“We did it all in two weeks; the first week in the rehearsal space, and then in the second week we moved into the theatre, we teched it, and did two shows to invited audiences of schoolchildren and one without one for the couple of days of filming.”
Hayley worked with director Chris Jarvis, a “CBeebies legend” with a theatre background, who had played Lord Montague in Forster’s CBeebies Presents: Romeo And Juliet and has 25 years’ experience of directing, producing, writing and performing in pantomimes. This winter he is playing the dame, Betty Bonbon, in Beauty And The Beast at Poole’s Lighthouse, in Dorset.
Again the creative process was influenced by Covid strictures. “I got the songs [by Banks and Wag] and script in advance, and with everyone being so far away, we had the readthrough online, chats online with Chris Banks and a long Zoom meeting with Chris Jarvis about where my input would be, and I remember at one point jumping to my feet and saying, ‘I’m thinking of doing this’!” says Hayley.
“As the show is for young children, a lot of the choreography is designed so that they can copy it. It’s big on storytelling and simple to replicate because, once the show is on BBC iPlayer, they can watch it over and over again. These CBeebies shows are big on participation.”
Hayley worked with a CBeebies cast of 16. “I’d worked with eight of them before on Romeo And Juliet. It’s different from a theatre pantomime because it’s not like you have an ensemble,” she says.
“Everyone has their role, their unique selling point and their chance to shine, but they’re also brilliant at what they do whether as presenters or actors. it’s been nice to get to know them over the two projects, getting an understanding of how they work and then wrapping the show around their characters to present Clement Clarke Moore’s beautiful poem.
“You’re working with characters who are much loved, so, for example, the character playing the villain has to be silly, rather than frightening, because it’s a show for two to six year olds. It means you have to be very careful; everything is more gentle but really funny.”
Looking back on her two CBeebies’ shows in 2021, Hayley says: “I feel I’ve built up a really good relationship and would love to do more of this work. Fingers crossed.
“It already feels like being part of a family, similar to working at the Theatre Royal. When it feels right, it feels really collaborative and there’s a mutual understanding. I know how they work and they know how I work.”
York-born Hayley’s focus then switched to Cinderella, working once more for York Theatre Royal after last year’s Travelling Pantomime (directed by Forster) and such previous productions as The Storm Whale and A View From The Bridge in 2019, For The Fallen in 2018 and In Fog And Falling Snow at the National Railway Museum in 2015.
She received Paul Hendy’s script in October, when most of the music was signed off by musical supervisor James Harrison by the end of that month. “For this kind of show, the more information I have up front, the better I do my job,” says Hayley.
“I can start getting my head around it, though I do like creating in the room too. I’m up for being flexible, but I like to have a clear vision, and that’s what’s great about working with Juliet.
“Yes, she likes being creative in the rehearsal room but her vision is always clear, and because it’s clear, it gives me freedom. I understand where she’s coming from, and she trusts me.”
For Cinderella, Hayley has worked with the seven principals, a six-strong ensemble and two aerial artists, Connor and Tiffany of Duo Fusion, who take part in some of the dancing too.
“We did the auditions for the ensemble just before I went off to Plymouth, and I’ve been delighted to find such versatile performers,” she says.
“They have to do three separate dance styles: lyrical pieces; fun, comedic, highly technical jazz and tap, and work with the text.
“ I wanted everyone to bring something different to the table to ensure there were different characters within the ensemble, and we’re really happy with them. It’s not, ‘here come the dancers’; they’re very much part of the story.”
Cinderella runs at York Theatre Royal until January 2 2022. Box office: 01904 623568 or at yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.CBeebies Presents: The Night Before Christmas premieres on December 11 and will then be available on BBC iPlayer.
Cinderella, York Theatre Royal/Evolution Productions, runs at York Theatre Royal until January 2 2022. Box office: 01904 623568 or at yorktheatreroyal.co.uk
THIS is a new age for the York Theatre Royal pantomime, both an Evolution and a revolution, and the earlier start and finish to the shorter production run is only part of the story.
On Tom Bird’s watch as chief executive, the Theatre Royal has decided to look to the future with a new pantomime broom ushered in by (kitchen maid) Cinderella after last year’s Covid-enforced detour into a Travelling Pantomime around the city wards.
Enough has been said of the toxic finale to Dame Berwick Kaler’s unique, unrepeatable era. Let’s focus, instead, on what’s rosy in the new panto garden, cultivated by the award-laden Evolution Productions’ partnership with the Theatre Royal.
The seeds were sown with last winter’s witty, snappy, pretty, compact Travelling Pantomime, written by Evolution’s astute director, Paul Hendy, directed by Theatre Royal creative director Juliet Forster and choreographed with bags of character by Hayley Del Harrison.
This team re-assembles for Cinderella, bringing along two of last winter’s panto players, Faye Campbell, for the title role, and Robin Simpson, who switches from dame to a rumbustious double act with big, boisterous Paul Hawkyard as scary-bikers Ugly Sisters Manky and Mardy. The beards may have gone since the press launch day, but they are still unmistakably two blokes in shock-frocks.
Forster knew they had chemistry from playing two of the Rude Mechanicals – Hawkyard was Bottom, by the way – in Shakespeare’s Rose Theatre’s riotous comedy A Midsummer Night’s Dream in York. Now they form a rouge-and-ready, rowdy partnership, each as funny as the other, with fabulously over-the-top couture, and their Strictly Come Dancing send-up of clunky, hair-in-their-eyes hosts Tess and Claudia is a scream.
Campbell, meanwhile, looks even more at home on the big stage than she did in the community halls and sports centres last December, with her radiant smile, family audience appeal, sassiness, dance moves and soulful voice for Cinderella.
Appealing to families has been put at the forefront of the Theatre Royal’s panto mission, and while that might seem obvious, given pantomime’s traditional audience, it does need bolstering to build a new following. Producer Hendy and director Forster have dipped into commercial panto’s usual resources, but not in a cloying way.
Ever-so-amiable Andy Day, from CBeebies, is a canny pick for Dandini, often a straight-bat role, but here full of fizz, playful humour and natural rapport. Likewise, ventriloquist Max Fulham arrives in York with a 2020 Great British Pantomime Award in his pocket for Best Speciality Act and a very cheeky monkey called Gordon on his arm, who says everything that Fulham is thinking but wouldn’t get away with uttering.
Fulham, as fresh faced and dimple cheeked as Michael McIntyre, is a music-hall classicist yet inventive in his ventriloquism partners (not only Gordon, but a fly and a pedal bin too), and he is both quick thinking and dexterous, juggling four skills at once at one point. His Buttons shines from start to finish; a big future lies ahead of him.
Benjamin Lafayette has just made his professional bow after Mountview Academy as Othello at the Mill Theatre, Dublin. From such a heavyweight tragedy, he switches with handsome grace and charm to Prince Charming, a very contrasting role but one he plays with a lovely lightness of touch, matched by his singing.
Sarah Leatherbarrow’s forever-enthusiastic Fairy Godmother gleefully overcomes the impediment of her left leg being in a protective boot, with her rapper’s delight in her rhyming couplets, to complete a strong principal cast, highly individual yet good team players too.
Hendy and Forster introduce a second speciality act, the Duo Fusion aerialists, to accompany Campbell and Lafayette’s romantic ballad to breathtaking effect; the climactic first-half transformation scene is spectacular, and only the opening and closing screen presence of an animal-loving, BBC Radio 2 presenter from Liverpool feels like an unnecessary concession to glitzy modern pantoland. The novel variation on the time-honoured ghost scene is far more rewarding.
Even with a running time of two hours 35 minutes (including the interval), there is not a wasted moment in Hendy’s script, with its combination of puns, social comment, romance, slapstick, knowing nods to panto tropes, crisp storytelling and sheer love of making you laugh.
Forster’s direction enhances all these winning ingredients, full of pace, energy, visual delight and verbal dexterity, while Harrison’s choreography bursts with life, fun and even funkiness in a series of familiar pop songs, with the ensemble playing their part to the full.
Musical director Stephen ‘Stretch’ Price enjoys plenty of interplay with the cast, while guitarist Luke Gaul has his moment in the solo spotlight. Helga Wood’s costumes are at their best for the Ugly Sisters, except for the wobbly hats; Phil Daniels and Michelle Marden’s set designs are solidly reliable, rather than full of inventive originality or beauty, but that is mere background detail.
Typified by the glorious chaos of Fulham, Simpson and Hawkyard’s Disney-picture slapstick routine, everyone is having a ball in Cinderella, setting a high benchmark for 21st century pantomime at its best.
In another break with last-night tradition, we even know the name of next year’s Theatre Royal & Evolution panto collaboration already: Peter Pan. That one will surely fly too.
AFTER last winter’s resourceful response to Covid restrictions with the Travelling Pantomime, York Theatre Royal’s panto returns to the main house for Cinderella from tomorrow (3/12/2021).
This will be the second co-production with the award-garlanded Evolution Productions, whose director and producer, Paul Hendy, has again written the script for Juliet Forster’s cast.
In the company will be CBeebies’ Andy Day (Dandini); Faye Campell (Cinderella) and Robin Simpson (Sister) from the Travelling Pantomime cast; Paul Hawkyard (the other ugly Sister); comedian and ventriloquist Max Fulham (Buttons); Benjamin Lafayette (Prince Charming) and Sarah Leatherbarrow (Fairy Godmother).
“We’ve been looking forward to this moment for a long time now,” says creative director Juliet Forster. “It feels very emotional to be working with a full cast, rehearsing back in the De Grey Rooms.
“We had a great time taking the Travelling Pantomime around the city last Christmas, but, oh my word, it’s just lovely to be back inside the theatre and to give a massive Theatre Royal welcome to Evolution.”
After the exit of the gang of five, Berwick Kaler, David Leonard, Suzy Cooper, Martin Barrass and A J Powell, to the Grand Opera House, Forster’s pantomime cast has more of a diverse look, typical of her work. “I’ve almost always been able to do that with my casting because, in a lot of ways, I like to reflect the world we live in.
“For me, it’s more dynamic that way, and it was a policy with me before it became an Arts Council thing.”
Juliet believes the new Theatre Royal pantomime will appeal to a family audience and be marked by warmth. “That warmth will come from the performers, Paul’s script and from myself directing it,” she says.
“That’s not something you can manufacture. You have to feel it and encourage it, and the number one thing I learned from doing the Travelling Pantomime was the need to work with a cast that’s really funny and warm. When you get that mixture, you have a wonderful bond with the audience.”
Juliet adds: “I learned a lot from last year’s show being my first panto. Even though I’d done a lot of children’s shows, comedies and farces, pantomime is very much its own form, and I acquired a lot of respect for Paul’s panto-writing skills.
“The other thing I learned, and another big reason for wanting to do it again, was Hayley Del Harrison’s choreography, which was so playful and individual. I loved how she worked with each cast member really individually to bring out their character in their dancing.
“Hayley is back this year, and we’re doing more of that way of working – and we have the ensemble back too. Again, it was a big learning curve for me that dance can not only be beautiful and spectacular in panto but playful and fun too, and that’s something Hayley really brings out.”
Writer-producer Paul Hendy is delighted by the casting too. “It’s not by accident,” he says. “It’s done with this in mind: more than anything we want to appeal to a family audience. That’s my driving force.
“The cast must have that appeal; they must be talented, and they have to have that youthful energy to make the audience go, ‘wow, this is a great show, a different show from the norm’, mixing those qualities with spectacle and comedy. They’re all the ingredients that make a good panto.”
Paul acknowledges the “big reputation” of York Theatre Royal’s pantomime built up over Berwick Kaler’s four-decade damehood. “It’s very significant. Berwick helped to really establish York as a pantomime city, and we will carry that on but with a different flavour. I have every confidence in what we do, and we think people will say, ‘oh yes, we love this show too’,” he says.
“There is definitely room for two large-scale pantomimes in this city. People will come and see this show for what it is, done with a lot of love and care, done in a bespoke way for York audiences. If people want high quality, they will enjoy this show.”
After the positive response to the Travelling Pantomime, audiences can expect more of the same, but more of it! “I was so pleased and proud to be associated with last year’s show. Cinderella will be in that style but on a much bigger scale, with that humour, that spirit, that connectivity with the audience.
“It’s also ‘meta-theatre’ with a knowing awareness to it: it’s that thing of everyone knowing it’s not just Andy Day playing Dandini, but it’s Andy Day from CBeebies playing Dandini. It works better when everyone knows it.”
The last word goes to Juliet, who says: “It feels right to start the new era at the Theatre Royal with Evolution with Cinderella, the best known of all pantomimes, but also a pantomime without a dame, to give the transition time, not wanting someone to have to step into Berwick’s shoes straightaway, out of respect for him, but with a gradual progression to the future in mind.”
Cinderella runs at York Theatre Royal from tomorrow (3/12/2021) to January 2.Tickets are on sale on 01904 623568 or at yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.
CBEEBIES presenter Andy Day will be joined by Travelling Pantomime familiar faces Robin Simpson and Faye Campbell for York Theatre Royal’s homecoming pantomime, Cinderella.
Presented in tandem with perennial panto award winners Evolution Productions, creative director Juliet Forster’s production will run from December 3 to January 2: an earlier start, shorter run and much earlier last night than past main-house pantos.
Day, who will play Dandini, joined CBeebies in 2007, since when he has presented animal and nature programmes, whether tackling dinosaurs, investigating baby animals and going on safari.
Nominated for a Children’s BAFTA award for best presenter in 2009, he has pantomime history, appearing in the CBeebies annual televised panto, as well as playing the Genie in Aladdin, Dandini in Cinderella, Muddles in Snow White and Billy Goose in Mother Goose.
Day is no stranger to director Forster, by the way, having been in the cast for her 50-minute CBeebies Presents: Romeo And Juliet, screened on April 2 and available subsequently on BBC iPlayer.
Day fronts his own live band, Andy And The Odd Socks, who once again will be launching Odd Socks Day for Anti-Bullying Week in schools up and down the country alongside the Anti-Bullying Alliance, a charity for whom Andy is a patron.
Faye Campbell will take the title role in Cinderella after playing The Hero in Jack And The Beanstalk and Dick Whittington in the Theatre Royal’s Travelling Pantomime in 16 York wardslast December.
Actor-storyteller Robin Simpson will be returning too, following up his Dame Trott last winter on the back of a three-year damehood at the Lawrence Batley Theatre, Huddersfield. For Cinderella, he will form an (Ugly) Sister double act with Paul Hawkyard.
Comedian and ventriloquist Max Fulham, set to shine as Buttons, has played leading comedy roles in pantomimes throughout the UK, being voted Best Speciality Act in the 2020 Great British Pantomime Awards for his Washee in Aladdin at Bromley’s Churchill Theatre.
Fulham has created his own comedy series, Drivel Pedlar, for his You Tube channel. Next summer, he will head to Australia to play Muddles in Snow White at the new Sydney Coliseum.
Forster’s cast for the first main-house Theatre Royal pantomime since the Dame Berwick Kaler reign will be completed by Benjamin Lafayette’sPrince Charming and Sarah Leatherbarrow’sFairy Godmother.
Written by Evolution producer Paul Hendy, the Theatre Royal’s Cinderella will relocate the timeless rags-to-riches story to York, as the stage “comes to sparkling life with magical transformations, glittering sets, stunning songs and side-splitting laughs”.
Audiences should expect a ”brand-new pantomime for everyone with the promise of a truly epic spectacle and heaps of hilarity”, directed by Forster, who was at the helm of both the Travelling Pantomime’s tour of community venues and this summer’s Around The World The World In 80 Days, her circus-themed adaptation of Jules Verne’s novel that visited four York school playing fields in 16 days before a Theatre Royal finale last week.
Chief executive Tom Bird says: “We’re over the moon to be creating a spectacular new pantomime for the people of York – one that’s tailor-made for the whole family, while honouring the pantomime traditions that our audiences love so much.
“The phenomenal team will give the York Theatre Royal pantomime a new lease of life with a fresh, family friendly, fun-filled approach to the story of Cinderella, set with pride in our amazing city.”
Evolution Productions, started by Emily Wood and Hendy in 2005, have built a reputation for superior, bespoke pantomimes with the emphasis on high-quality production values, strong casting and highly humorous scripts. Two-time winners of Pantomime of the Year at the Great British Pantomime Awards, they are the team behind Sheffield Theatres’ “extraordinarily successful” panto at the Lyceum Theatre.
Hendy says: “Emily and I are absolutely thrilled to be working with York Theatre Royal on Cinderella. We’re huge fans of the theatre and we’re looking forward to collaborating with Tom and his brilliant team to produce a wonderful, family-friendly pantomime with spectacular production values, a superbly talented cast and a genuinely funny script.”
Tickets are on sale on 01904 623568 or at yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.
“IT’S been a few years coming, but finally getting to flail around on the @YorkTheatre main stage today. We’re here till the 28th.”
So reads actor Emilio Iannucci’s tweet, accompanying a photo of the circus-themed set in situ for this afternoon’s 2pm performance of Around The World In 80 Days.
“Flailing around” were not words that tipped off the keyboard keys for CharlesHutchPress’s review when watching Iannucci racing against time with elegant aplomb as globe-traversing Phileas Fogg in an outdoor performance on the Copmanthorpe Primary School playing fields.
From today to Saturday, creative director Juliet Forster’s adaptation of Jules Verne’s novel moves indoors for a York Theatre Royal homecoming finale led by Iannucci’s dual lead role of Ringmaster and Fogg.
On the back of eye-catching turns for the Theatre Royal in The Book Of Dragons and Hello And Goodbye and for Shakespeare’s Rose Theatre Romeo & Juliet, Richard lll, Macbeth and A Midsummer Night’s Dream in 2018/2019, he was always Forster’s pick to have fun with Fogg. “That’s very flattering to hear, though I’m sure there are other people who could do the role!” says Emilio.
“I’ve been recovering from long Covid, so in a way I’ve been having a race against time myself to do this show. It’s not like I’m missing a physical bit of me, but there are still ups and downs, though they’re now further apart and less intense – and drawing on the energy of my fellow cast members has been very helpful.”
Phileas Fogg is noted for his efficiency and managing his life very carefully, a philosophy that Iannucci has applied to his recuperation and return to performing. “Long Covid has been a horrible thing to go through but it’s challenged me to approach things in new ways, rather than my usual process, now trying to achieve the same things but in a different way,” he says.
Iannucci’s main inspiration for his characterisation of Phileas Fogg is Verne’s novel. “That’s because the Ringmaster is adamant that we have to be faithful to the book, not the films. He’s determined to tell the story by the book, though whether that’s for budgetary reasons, like explaining why there’ll be no hot-air balloon…!” he says.
“The first part is all about telling you who Fogg wasn’t, what he wasn’t, not judging him too quickly, because he’s a strange character in that he’s not very likeable at the start and not wholly likeable by the end, but gradually you do come round to his side.
“He’s the opposite of the Ringmaster, who’s stroppy, flustered and always trying to herd cats.”
Dame Berwick Kaler has often talked of the need for actors to be “likeable” in his pantomime companies, and Iannucci has displayed such likeability in buckets in myriad stage roles but says: “I’d counter that by saying I don’t try to be likeable; I try to be honest…and Fogg is very honest. He can be a bit an a**e – he may or may not be guilty of theft – so I’m just trying to stay to what’s honest to that character and let the audience judge.
“I’m more used to playing low-status characters, who have to move props and help people, but Fogg is calling the tune here.”
In this energetically humorous account of Around The World In 80 Days, Iannucci’s Phileas Fogg is sort of a double act with his servant, French-Moroccan actor Ali Azhar’s Passepartout.
Azhar made his mark previously in York in the second summer of Shakespeare’s Rose Theatre at the Eye of York, appearing as a Spirit in The Tempest (“moving a tree around!”) and as the Dauphin (“a delicious part”) in 2019.
“It was a rewarding adventure: four months of Shakespeare, the best bootcamp an actor can have,” says Ali. “And I love York! To wake up in this city with all that lovely fresh air and beautiful sites is bliss.”
Parisian Azhar plays not only the put-upon yet resourceful Passepartout but also The Clown, part of the circus company charged with telling Verne’s tale, as well as juggling or forming human pyramids or balancing on a seesaw with fellow actor Eddie Mann.
“That’s really helpful for the play because it means the cast can tell you about British colonisation and imperialism in Victorian times [Fogg made his journey in 1871], where we can all join in the debate without schooling everyone when it’s a story and we want everyone to have fun, so it’s joyful ride.”
Introducing The Clown, Ali says: “He’s recently been hired by the Ringmaster and has no idea about Jules Verne and doesn’t know the novel. He’s wild, a joker, but when he’s told he has to play the part of Passepartout, he tries not to take too much of the attention, whereas a clown usually does that.
“I think he must be the quietest clown I’ve ever played – and he seems to be always late or trying to catch up!”
Around The World In 80 Days is at York Theatre Royal for four days, August 25 to 28; performances at 2pm and 7pm. Signed performance: August 26, 2pm. Suitable for age seven upwards. Box office: 01904 623568 or at yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.
AFTER traversing the city on a trailer for 16 days, the York Theatre Royal circus pitches up back home in St Leonard’s Place from Wednesday for the final run of Around The World In 80 Days.
Among the travelling players for creative director Juliet Forster’ stage adaptation of Jules Verne’s novel is actor, singer, acrobatic and yoga teacher Dora Rubinstein, a North Easterner, originally from Newcastle, who has settled in York.
She has history with Forster, having voiced Mary Magdalene in the York Mystery Plays audio plays for the Theatre Royal and BBC Radio York during lockdown, under Forster’s direction, and then taken on the guise of pioneering Anne Lister, alias Gentleman Jack, for musical theatre composer Gus Gowland’s The Streets Of York at the Theatre Royal’s re-opening show, Love Bites, overseen by Forster in May.
“It was so different doing that short piece for Love Bites,” says Dora. “I was approached by Gus, as we had lots of mutual friends who work in musical theatre, and Suranne Jones, who plays Anne Lister in the Gentleman Jack TV series, is not too far away from me in terms of my looks.
“It was lovely to be back in the theatre, as though most of my recent work has been circus based, I still love singing.”
Although Dora had worked with Juliet on the Radio Mystery Plays, Covid restrictions had limited the rehearsals and recordings to being conducted remotely. “That’s why I wasn’t sure if she knew about my circus skills, so I sent her an email, but it turned out she was aware, though I don’t know how, but I’m just happy she did,” she says.
Dora, who runs workshops in acrobalance, handstands, flexibility, contortion and aerial skills in York and Leeds, is now playing The Acrobat and American journalist, industrialist, inventor and charity worker Nellie Bly, who, like the fictional Phileas Fogg in Verne’s story, made a race-against-time trip around the world.
“At the auditions, I had to do an American accent for Nellie Bly; I used a Geordie accent for The Acrobat – my choice – and I also have to play two ship captains, one from Hull, the other, a salty old sea dog,” she says.
All those acrobatic and contortionist skills naturally come in handy for The Acrobat in Around The World In 80 Days, but how come the Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts graduate has developed those skills?
“My mum is a visual artist, who makes community pieces, and she was fascinated by how close the circus community was. As part of her research, she went to a trapeze class in Newcastle, and she said she felt like she’d come home,” says Dora, taking the country route in her explanation.
“She was so at home with it, whereas most people, when they first try it, find it incredibly hard. When I came back home from Arts Ed [her musical theatre diploma course in London], she knew how much I’d enjoyed the physical side of it and so she introduced me to circus culture, where I felt I really fitted into that world, the acrobatic world, rather than dance.
“Then, when I later left Mountview, I kept it up even more, doing aerial classes, and it’s since fed into my other work, with more to play with from the devising perspective.”
Dora teaches a “really wide range of people”, whether leading workshops for children and young families or teaching York burlesque performer Freida Nipples flexibility tricks to integrate into her routines.
Even during rehearsals, she has continued to hold workshops at weekends, such as the acro-yoga sessions she leads at The Stables, in Nunmill Street, just off Bishopthorpe Road.
“My mum [Jane Park] is coming down to teach with me; we’re the first mother-and-daughter acro-yoga instructors,” she says.
Dora moved to York two years ago after living in London for a decade. “I felt that was long enough down there,” she says. “A lot of my work was in the north, and though you are fed this idea that you have to be based in London to make a career as a performer, I met this amazing actress, Helen Longworth, when I did two pantomimes at Lancaster.
“She was also doing TV parts and radio in The Archers, had a young child and was living in a village outside Morecambe, and I just thought, ‘why should I spend £1,300 a month on a flat in London?’.”
Why settle on York? “My boyfriend loves taking photographs, so we wanted a city that was beautiful to walk around, with good rail connections, and York really was the only one! We’ve now bought a house, so it looks like we’re staying!
“My grandfather lived in Portland Street, and I grew up seeing plays at York Theatre Royal, when I came here every two or three months. He loved the theatre too, so it’s always felt like home.”
This week will find Dora performing on that Theatre Royal stage, bringing Nellie Bly’s story to the fore as Phileas Fogg’s race against the clock to complete a full circuit of the Earth is interwoven with investigative journalist Nellie’s own record-breaking journey.
“I hadn’t heard of Nellie until I got the audition, though it’s incredible all the amazing things she did leading up to her going around the world,” she says.
“I remember being taught about Queen Elizabeth 1, Queen Victoria and Grace Darling [the English lighthouse keeper’s daughter, who risked her life to rescue the stranded survivors of the wrecked steamship Forfarshire in 1838], but not about Nellie Bly’s achievements.
“When she submitted an anonymous response to a newspaper article that said women should be in the kitchen, it was so well written that the editor put out a call to discover who it was.
“She became an investigative journalist, going undercover into a mental institution, putting her life on the line to make a difference for others. She had such chutzpah.”
As for Dora’s other principal role as The Acrobat, “Funnily enough, Juliet almost called her ‘The Contortionist’, but she didn’t think she would find one, but there I was all along, doing partner-acrobatic work and some contortion work in Japan, and performing contortion acts at the Durham Juggling Festival and Play Festival in North Wales!” she says .
Looking ahead, after undertaking research work with her mother at Dance City, Newcastle, and working with mentor and dramaturg Sarah Puncheon, Dora is creating her first acrobatics-based piece, Hold Your Own, built around family relationships. “Hopefully we’ll start doing it next year and tour it later in 2022,” she says.
Around The World In 80 Days races around York Theatre Royal from August 25 to 28; performances at 2pm and 7pm. Box office: 01904 623568 or at yorktheatreroyal.co.uk. Suitable for age seven upwards.
REVIEW: York Theatre Royal in Around The World In 80 Days, Copmanthorpe Primary School Playing Fields, York
NO foreign holiday this summer? Let York Theatre Royal take you there, off the back of a trailer at a school playing field, transformed into a circus.
Wednesday, 7pm, Copmanthorpe Primary School: the yellow and red striped flags are fluttering in the night air in a circular formation to denote Vernes Circus is in town. Bobbing balloons and the persistently perky sound of a fairground organ add to the atmosphere.
Rather than inside a pop-up big top, we are in the open air, wrapped up for the English weather (last Friday evening’s show at Carr Junior School had to be called off after a thunderstorm warning). Safety first too, everyone is still mindful of social distancing, maintaining gaps between fold-up chairs.
Theatre Royal creative director Juliet Forster has form for such theatrical enterprises, rolling out last winter’s Travelling Pantomime to 16 city wards. A case of taking theatre to the people, rather than expecting them to take themselves to the Theatre Royal, although this summer’s production will end with four days of indoor shows there after going around four York schools in 16 days.
She also repeats the panto template of a cast of five with multiple talents, while this time adding the writer’s credit to her directorial duties, just as she did when adapting Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet for CBeebies earlier this year.
We think we know French novelist Jules Verne’s story of a somewhat prickly English Victorian gentleman, Phileas Fogg, going around the globe in a hot air balloon. Stop right there. No sooner has Ali Azhar’s Clown started to blow up a balloon than he is told no such form of transportation was used by Fogg in the book; only in the myriad screen adaptations.
Financial constraints would prevent any balloon rides here, cautions Emilio Iannucci’s snappy Ringmaster.
Clown? Ringmaster? Surely, they were not in Verne’s story either? Indeed not, but Forster frames her adaptation around circus performers telling the tale, all her company taking on two main roles and more besides.
To complement the upstanding, moustachioed Iannucci’s Ringmaster/Fogg and French-Moroccan Azhar’s Clown/servant Passepartout, here come Ulrika Krishnamurti’s Trick Rider/Indian princess Aouda, New Zealander Eddie Mann’s Knife Thrower/spiv Detective Fox and Dora Rubinstein’s Acrobat/Nellie Bly.
Mann will work his way through London, Liverpool, Scottish and American Deep South accents; the ultra-flexible Rubinstein, through Geordie, refined American, English South West and, a particular favourite, Hull, for a blunt sea captain.
Up against the clock, everything moves at pace, whether scene or character changes, storyline or the revolving signage that denotes arrival at the next destination.
Hold that thought. Not quite everything moves so quickly. Fogg is always in too much of a rush to bother with describing where he is, but Nellie Bly is a groundbreaking American journalist whose travelogues are a joy to behold whenever Rubinstein’s resolute character settles for a restorative breather in a brilliant directorial decision by Forster .
Unlike Verne’s Fogg and his wager with his Reform Club cronies, Bly is not mere fiction. She really did traverse the world in a flight that knocked days off Fogg’s total, and yet her history-making story is not well known. Forster puts that right, interweaving the tales in a way that both compliments and complements each other.
Forster’s production brings to mind the elasticity and stage electricity, the physical and mental fun and games, the deftness and daftness, of Patrick Barlow’s The 39 Steps and Mischief’s The Comedy About A Bank Robbery. Like those two West End hits, the more the show the progresses, the better it is, the more impressive the cast becomes, using props in unexpected ways, whether straw bales or bicycle wheels, or circus equipment that turns into a cell for Fogg.
One heavy-drinking scene with Mann’s Fix and Azhar’s Passepartout trying to balance but constantly on the move on a seesaw will live long in the memory.
Not only Forster and her livewire, fun, funny international company are on top form here: so too are Sara Perks’s evocative circus set and dapper costume designs; Asha Jennings-Grant’s dashing movement direction, circus acrobatics and smart choreography, and Ed Gray’s music and especially his 360-degree sound design that adds spectacularly to the rip-roaring drama.
Still haven’t the Foggiest idea of what family show to see this summer? This is the one. Roll up! Roll up!
Tickets can be booked on 01904 623568 or at yorktheatreroyal.co.uk. Suitable for age seven upwards.
Around The World In 80 Days performances still to come:
Copmanthorpe Primary School, tonight, 7pm.
Archbishop Holgate’s School, August 14, 7pm; August 15, 2pm and 6pm; Aug 16, 3pm and 7pm.
Joseph Rowntree School, August 18, 7pm; August 19, 3pm and 7pm; August 20, 7pm; August 21, 2pm and 6pm.
York Theatre Royal, August 25 to 28, 2pm and 7pm. Signed performance: August 26, 2pm.