’Tis the season for babbies and bairns of all ages in York and beyond to enjoy the time-honoured traditions of slapstick, bad puns and men dressed as women. Yes it’s panto time again!
But are you torn between a terrific Twankey and a soap-studded Snow White? Not sure who’s dame for a laugh? Here’s a guide to what York’s got to offer this festive season…
Aladdin And The Twankeys – York Theatre Royal
The story A Berwick Kaler-penned twist on the Aladdin story complete with princess, genie and japes galore, courtesy of the Widow Twankey.
The stars The biggest name in York panto, Berwick Kaler is, as ever the big draw in the Theatre Royal’s panto, befrocked as the Dame once again. He’ll be joined by regulars Martin Barrass, Suzy Cooper, Sian Howard and AJ Powell, along with relative newcomer Jonathan Race as the baddie.
Strongest points This is quite simply the classic York panto. As long as Berwick Kaler’s treading the boards at York Theatre Royal, that’s unlikely to change. For a first-hand, completely involving experience of a local tradition that’s still going strong, you couldn’t possibly do better.
Weakest points Jonathan Race is by all accounts a delightfully villainous baddie, but many still miss local legend David Leonard, who’ll be absent from the York Theatre Royal panto cast for the second year running.
What the critics say “At heart this show is put together with love and attention to detail by all involved, and warmly welcomes in audience members new and old” British Theatre Guide on 2012 show Robin Hood And His Merry Mam
Where York Theatre Royal, St Leonard’s Place, York
When Thursday, December 12 to Saturday, February 1
Tickets On the Theatre Royal website
Price Cheapest: £10. Priciest: £26.50
The Pretender to the Crown
Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs – The Grand Opera House
The story This tale has all the hallmarks of a classic panto story, with cartoonish characters, glamorous leads and a fantastic villain in The Wicked Queen.
The stars The starry cast for the Grand Opera House’s panto is led by Emmerdale’s Adele Silva as The Wicked Queen, Hollyoaks’ Marcus Patrick as the Huntsman and Any Dream Will Do star Rob McVeigh as the handsome Prince. Hairspray actress Lauren Hood takes the role of Snow White, whilst local favourites Aiden J Harvey and Phil Randall will play Muddles and the Dame respectively.
Strongest points One glimpse at the cast for this production is enough to tell you that Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs features the most impressive array of “household names” of all the pantos taking place in York this Christmas. For those who like to do a bit of star-spotting when they visit the theatre, this is your best choice.
Weakest points Whilst the Grand Opera House can lay claim to a star-studded cast, the number of actors performing in Grand Opera House pantos year after year is too low to create any real sense of local tradition.
What the critics say “Minimum plot, make-do sets and no surprises, but loads of musical numbers, time-honoured routines and jokes as corny as a field of maize” Charles Hutchinson, York Press on 2012 show Sleeping Beauty
Where The Grand Opera House, Cumberland Street, York
When Friday, December 13 to Sunday, January 5
Tickets From the ATG website
Price Cheapest: £9.40. Priciest: £28.90
The community choice
Jack And The Beanstalk – Joseph Rowntree Theatre
The story The Rowntree Players’ take on the Jack and the Beanstalk tale promises plenty of gags and a plot which sees Jack and family facing an energy crisis. The solution they happen upon is really quite original, and that’s all we’re saying…
The stars Jack And The Beanstalk is being staged entirely through the efforts of local thesps the Rowntree Players, making this a great chance to spot some up and coming York talents whilst celebrating local community theatre.
Strongest points Not only is this likely to be the most original mainstream panto on offer in York this year, it’s also sure to be the cheapest.
Weakest points Jack And The Beanstalk finishes its run on December 14, meaning those who don’t break up for the holidays until a later date may miss out.
What the critics say “Their script is worthy of a professional company – it’s better than many – bringing fresh vigour to the panto stock in trade” Charles Hutchinson, York Press on 2012 show Cinderella
Where Joseph Rowntree Theatre, Haxby Rd, York YO91 1RT
When Saturday, December 7 to Saturday, December 14
Tickets Available here
Price Cheapest: £8. Priciest: £14
The damp squib
Dick Whittington – York Barbican *CANCELLED*
York Barbican and promoters Blue Genie have announced the cancellation of their 2013 production of Dick Whittington as a result of disappointing ticket sales.