Star dame Berwick Kaler reunited with his best-loved bad guy David Leonard as rehearsals began for this year’s Theatre Royal panto on Monday (November 17).
David has not appeared in his customary role as the pelvis-thrusting, Lycra-clad villain for the past two years, but had been the man to boo and hiss for the previous 27 pantos.
York Theatre Royal
Thu Dec 11 2014 to Sat Jan 31 2015
Berwick and David team up again for Old Mother Goose, which starts a seven-week run from Thursday, December 11.
Two years ago David was unable to join the show as he was too busy wowing audiences in the West End playing Miss Trunchbull in the smash hit musical Matilda.
This year he returns to the York stage playing the evil Dreaded Lurgi.
So the plot, such as it is… Good versus evil is put to the test when a good fairy and an evil demon fight for supremacy.
The bad demon claims any human being can be corrupted; the good fairy throws down a challenge and chooses Old Mother Goose as an example of all that is good and cannot be corrupted.
‘The mother of all pantos’
As well as directing and writing this year’s pantomime, Berwick will star as Old Mother Goose.
Joining the dame will be regular favourites Martin Barrass (29th York panto) as her son, principal girl Suzy Cooper (20th) as her daughter and York’s favourite brummie AJ Powell as Puck.
York Theatre Royal artistic director Damian Cruden, who this Christmas will also be directing the smash hit The Railway Children at London’s King’s Cross Station, will again endeavour to try and maintain some level of sanity whilst co-directing with Berwick Kaler for the 17th year.
“I consider Old Mother Goose to be the mother of all pantomimes,” Berwick said.
“It’s rarely seen these days, probably because no one can find a dame old enough to play the title role! However, thanks to a modern digital enhancing ageing process I can add 20 years to my youthful looks and you’ll believe I’m 70 years old.
“As always it will have the York Theatre Royal’s traditional hallmark of madness, touch of anarchy, surrealism, good old fashioned belly laughs and brand new visually stunning sets and costumes.
“Oh and David Leonard is back. I only vaguely remember him playing the baddie for 27 years…”
Old Mother Goose will be the last York Theatre Royal production staged at the theatre before the venue’s £4.1 million redevelopment commences for eight months.
The new developments will feature the refurbishment of the entire front of house areas including a new catering and café facilities, a re-configured auditorium and state-of-the art modula stage.