The Grand Old Dame of York – York Theatre Royal

York Theatre Royal presents:

The Grand Old Dame of York

York Theatre Royal, Thurs 13 Dec 2018 to Sat 2 Feb 2019

Writer Berwick Kaler
Co-directed by Berwick Kaler and Damian Cruden
Set and costume designer Mark Walters
Lighting designer Richard G Jones
Musical director Elliot Styche
Movement director/choreographer Grace Harrington

Forty years on Berwick Kaler still reigns supreme as York Theatre Royal’s Dame and celebrates with an original pantomime called, appropriately enough, The Grand Old Dame of York from 13 December 2018 to 2 February 2019.

Casting is complete and fans can rest assured he’ll be joined by regular York panto family members Martin Barrass, David Leonard, Suzy Cooper and AJ Powell. Between them they have clocked up 100 years in York panto appearances.

Jake Lindsay steps out of the Ensemble to join the regular cast. This year’s Ensemble is led, as usual, by Danielle Mullan (Dance Captain) with Scott Wallace, Charleigh Webb and Cameron MacDonald all returning to the line-up. They are joined by newcomers Joseph Poulton and Autumn Draper.

Berwick and the theatre’s Artistic Director Damian Cruden co-direct the show. Returning are set and costume designer Mark Walters, musical director Elliot Styche and choreographer Grace Harrington.

After playing villains in commercial pantomimes, Berwick first put on a wig and frock for Cinderella, playing one of the Ugly Sisters, Philomena, in York Theatre Royal’s 1977 panto. He had made his York debut earlier that year playing Sir Andrew Aguecheek in Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night.

Apart from two years (1986 and 1987) when he was appearing in London’s West End, he’s been York’s Dame ever since. His opening words “Me babbies, me bairns” have become his catchphrase along with hurling Wagon Wheels into the audience and handing out bottles of brown ale.

His first York panto script was for Aladdin in 1981. An absence of plot has become one of the hallmarks of his scripts. “Plots are for cemeteries,” he once joked. As well as variations on regular panto titles such as The Lad Aladdin and Robin Hood & His Merry Mam, he has created original shows including Dick Turpin The Panto and Old Mother Millie.

Berwick Kaler said:
“For forty years the panto team and I have shared laughter with the most loyal audience on the planet. To this day I haven’t a clue where we went right!”

Damian Cruden said:
“I’m delighted to have a company that reflects the traditions of our York Pantomime as it mixes the old with the new, the familiar with the contemporary and the living with the dead. In this celebratory year of our very own ancient Dame we are delighted to welcome some much younger actors to help Berwick, Martin, David and Suzy on and off the stage. Once again we await any sign of a plot for our ensemble of actors to get to grips with but we know that after 40 years of service our Dame fully intends upon maintaining standards set over the years, so we will all still be wondering at the end of the night…. just what did happen? But seriously it’s a wonderful to know the family will be in the house yet again this Christmas.”