York Theatre Royal to go all around York in 23 days in All Around The World In 80 Days

Travelling players: top row, Ali Azhar and Ulrika Krishnamurti; bottom row, Eddie Mann, left, Dora Rubinstein and Emilio Iannucci, the cast for Around The World In 80 Days

YORK Theatre Royal is going global, visiting all four corners of York in 23 days with its family show Around The World In 80 Days.

After taking the Theatre Royal’s debut Travelling Pantomime to 16 of York’s 21 wards at Christmas, creative director Juliet Forster will be at the helm once more for this summer spectacular.

Juliet’s new circus-themed adaptation of the Jules Verne novel will play four York playing fields from August 6 to 21 before heading home for a finale at York Theatre Royal from August 25 to 28.

“As one of the characters in the play says: ‘If you can’t travel to exciting parts of the globe this summer, don’t despair, we are here to bring the world to you!’,” says Juliet. “That’s the spirit of this production really. 

“Many of us are feeling disappointed that there are still a lot of restrictions around travelling this summer, so this show is the perfect opportunity for some armchair tourism – or, rather, picnic-blanket tourism.”

Juliet continues: “Jules Verne’s story is a lot of fun as the characters race against time to complete a full circuit of the Earth, and in this version, fact and fiction also go head to head as real-life investigative journalist Nellie Bly puts in an appearance. It’s going to be a joyful, very energetic, very silly and highly acrobatic re-telling of the story, delivering the kind of experience that live theatre does best.”

“It’s going to be a joyful, very energetic, very silly and highly acrobatic re-telling of the story,” promises Juliet Forster, director of York Theatre Royal’s Around The World In 80 Days

Forster, who also directed Love Bites, the love letter to live performance that re-opened the Theatre Royal after Covid restrictions eased on May 17, will be joined in the outdoor production team by Sara Perks, designer of the Theatre Royal productions of Everything Is Possible: The York Suffragettes and Brideshead Revisited; movement director Asha Jennings-Grant; composer and sound designer Ed Gray; lighting and sound engineer Mike Redley and assistant director Sam Bond.

Around The World In 80 Days will be staged outdoors on school playing fields at Carr Junior School, August 6 to 8; Copmanthorpe Primary School, August 10 to 12; Archbishop Holgate’s School, August 14 to 16, and Joseph Rowntree School, August 18 to 21, followed by the Theatre Royal home run.

Tree-climbing enthusiast Emilio Iannucci, previously seen at York Theatre Royal in The Book Of Dragons and Hello And Goodbye and at Shakespeare’s Rose Theatre in Romeo & Juliet, Richard lll, Macbeth and A Midsummer Night’s Dream in 2018/2019, will lead the cast as the Ringmaster and Phileas Fogg.

Ali Azhar will play The Clown and Passepartout; Ulrika Krishnamurti, The Trick Rider and Aouda; Eddie Mann, The Knife Thrower and Detective Fox, and York actor Dora Rubinstein, The Acrobat and Nellie Bly.

To add to the international flavour of Forster’s production, Ali Azharis a French-Moroccan actor born in Paris, where he studied classical theatre before further training at Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts, London, and Broadway Dance Centre in New York.

Emilio Iannucci, the son of satirist, writer, director and radio producer Armando Iannucci, is of Italian heritage; Ulrika Krishnamurti is a singer of Indian classical music and this summer Eddie Mann celebrates his tenth year of traveling around the world in 24 hours to settle in Britain after leaving his native New Zealand.  

Who’s playing which roles?

As a member of post-punk trio Circus Of Bones, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Mann has toured Spain, Sweden, the Netherlands, France and Cyprus, as well as Britain five times, and had a residency at Cafe de Paris in, er, London.

Stretching things a little, Dora Rubinstein runs workshops in flexibility, contortion, acrobalance, handstands, and aerial adroitness in York and Leeds.

Looking forward to a summer of globe-trotting in York, Theatre Royal chief executive Tom Bird says: “Following the success of our hugely popular indoors family summer shows, including Swallows And Amazons and The Wind In The Willows, we’re excited to be going outdoors and to all four corners of York with Around The World In 80 Days. This madcap adventure, full of fun and frivolity, is just what we need right now. Enjoy!”

York Theatre Royal in Around The World In 80 Days:

Carr Junior School, August 6, 7pm;  August 7,  3pm and 7pm; August 8, 2pm and 6pm.

Copmanthorpe Primary School, August 10, 7pm; August 11 and 12, 3pm and 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.

Suitable for age 7+. Box office: 01904 623568 or at yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.