Pantomime returns to the York Theatre Royal this Christmas – but unlike any seen there for decades.
A new era will see a children’s TV star head a cast which also combines West End stars and York favourites.
This was all meant to happen last Christmas of course. But the Covid pandemic put paid to that, and instead the theatre staged a ‘Travelling Pantomime’ which took the show on the road.
Now, finally, the time has come. And walking into the theatre, you can feel the buzz of excitement everywhere.
“It feels incredibly emotional to be welcoming a panto back,” said Tom Bird, executive director at York Theatre Royal.
Cinderella will be making magic at the Theatre Royal from 3 December to 2 January.
It will feature CBeebies star Andy Day, who will be playing Dandini.
Andy is a connoisseur of pantomime, having been a part of many previously – including playing Dandini in 2013 as part of The Alban Arena’s Cinderella. So what keeps him coming back to the art form?
“It’s a bit of a national treasure, pantomime,” Andy said. “And I’ve always loved family entertainment.
“It’s great if you can take any age to something and everyone can enjoy it on a different level – pantomime is brilliant for that.
“Cinderella is my favourite pantomime to do as well.”
Andy’s first break was in 2007 when he auditioned to be the new presenter at CBeebies – beating more than 2,000 people. He has since fronted several of his own series for CBeebies such as Andy’s Wild Adventures – which was BAFTA-nominated.
“I’ve never looked back,” Andy said. “I absolutely love it.”
He often gets recognised on the street by children but it’s “always lovely and positive.”
“The reactions I get are either you’re their best mate and they love it, or they’re petrified because you’ve jumped out the TV, or they’re just really shy.
“The parents really appreciate it as well,” Andy added. “I’m a parent myself and I understand the joy that kids get from watching their favourite programmes.”
Based in Bristol, Andy has only been to York a few times but was most recently at the Yorkshire Balloon Fiesta this summer! He performed with his band ‘Andy and the Odd Socks’.
“It was our favourite gig to do,” Andy said. “The audience were just lovely.”
Meet the cast
The cast also features Faye Campbell as Cinderella, who starred in Jack and the Beanstalk and Dick Whittington in York Theatre Royal’s ‘Travelling Pantomime’ last year.
She will be joined by Robin Simpson and Paul Hawkyard (Sisters), comedian and ventriloquist Max Fulham (Buttons), Benjamin Lafayette (Prince Charming), and West End star Sarah Leatherbarrow (Fairy Godmother).
The pantomime is directed by Juliet Forster, who also directed the ‘Travelling Pantomime’.
It’s all-change for the Theatre Royal’s pantomime this year – after cutting ties with previous panto staple Berwick Kaler – so what can audiences expect?
“They can expect something really funny and warm,” Juliet said. “Aerial work, beautiful costumes, great music, great dancing and a really good family show.
“We have masses of respect for everything that’s gone before – it’s just a new beginning.
“I think it feels like a responsibility as well to get it right. In a really nice way – I feel very excited about it.”
The pantomime is co-produced by Evolution, one of the country’s most successful pantomime producers.
“Evolution and York Theatre Royal doubled together – it’s going to be a perfect combination,” said Andy.
For more information and to book your tickets to Cinderella visit the York Theatre Royal website.