The Haunted Season Comes to York Theatre Royal This Autumn

World premieres by Emma Rice, Matthew Bourne and Tonderai Munyevu plus appearances from Dracula, The Hound of the Baskervilles and the Headless Horseman all feature in The Haunted Season at York Theatre Royal this autumn.

Season highlights include:
• Emma Rice’s Wise Children company with a fresh theatrical take on Emily Brontë’s epic tale of love, revenge and redemption Wuthering Heights in a co-production with the National Theatre and Bristol Old Vic.
New Adventures explore the underbelly of 1930s London in Matthew Bourne’s The Midnight Bell.
• Tonderai Munyevu writes and performs Mugabe, My Dad & Me, a high voltage one man show exploring familial love, identity and what it means to return ‘home’.
• The return of Phoenix Dance, Ballet Black and English Touring Opera.
• An adaptation by Philip Meeks of Gothic horror novel The Legend of Sleepy Hollow with a cast led by Wendi Peters and Bill Ward
• Appearances by horror favourites Dracula and The Hound of the Baskervilles

As nights start to draw in, York Theatre Royal is filling its stage with spirits and shadows in The Haunted Season.

Emma Rice’s Wise Children follow appearances at the Theatre Royal in Angela Carter’s Wise Children and Malory Towers with Wuthering Heights (9-20 November) in a York Theatre Royal co-production with the National Theatre and Bristol Old Vic. Lucy McCormick plays Cathy in this epic story of love, revenge and redemption as Rice’s celebrated musical and visual style brings new life to the classic story.

Emma Rice said: “It is with an earthy spring in my step and epic twinkle in my eye that I announce our new plans for Wuthering Heights. So many projects have fallen by the wayside during lockdown that there were times when I lost hope – but there was no need! Wise Children are back; stronger, wiser and grateful for the chance to sing and dance again. The exceptional cast, crew, administrative and creative teams are ready to go and we are fizzing with ideas, dreams and anticipation.”

The second world premiere in the Haunted Season presents “intoxicated tales from darkest Soho” in Matthew Bourne’s The Midnight Bell (30 Sept-2 Oct) inspired by English novelist Patrick Hamilton and exploring the underbelly of 1930s London life. New Adventures invite audiences to step inside The Midnight Bell, a tavern where one particular lonely hearts club gather to play out their lovelorn affairs of the heart; bitter comedies of longing, frustration, betrayal and redemption.

Tonderai Munyevu is writer and performer of the season’s third world premiere Mugabe, My Dad & Me (9-I8 Sept). The one man show charts the rise and fall of one of the most controversial politicians of the 20th century through the personal story of Tonderai’s family and his relationship with his father.

Philip Meeks – whose play Murder, Margaret and Me proved a big hit at York Theatre Royal – has adapted The Legend of Sleepy Hollow (5-9 October), Washington Irving’s classic tale of the Headless Horseman, for the stage. A pair of familiar TV faces, Wendi Peters and Bill Ward, lead the cast of a production featuring illusions by Filipe J Carvalho.

Director Jake Smith said: “Sleepy Hollow is undoubtedly one of the greatest horror stories ever written and a tour de force to stage. The production has at its heart the power of nomadic storytelling and gathering round the campfire for a good ghost story. It is an important story for now as we look at conversations around the identity of nations, communities and humankind throughout the world.”

Two familiar figures from the world of horror put in appearances although not quite as you might expect. Award-winning kings of comedy La Navet Bete sink their teeth into Dracula: The Bloody Truth (24-25 Sept) which mixes slapstick with carefully-crafted comedy and a healthy dose of things going wrong as the action moves from dark and sinister Transylvania to the ‘awkwardly charming seaside town of Whitby’.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Hound of the Baskervilles (19-23 Oct) gets a farcical overhaul in Lotte Wakeham’s production that has been dubbed ‘rib-bustingly hilarious’ by The Times. This twist on the classic detective story promises an ‘exhilarating collision of farce, theatrical invention and wonderfully comic performances’.

Pride and Prejudice’s most roguish gentleman George Wickham is ready to set the record straight as Adrian Lukis performs in Being Mr Wickham (14-16 Oct). Lukis, who played Mr Wickham in the BBC TV adaptation, will reveal what really happened with Darcy, how he felt about Lizzie and, of course, what happened at Waterloo.

Two popular dance companies return to the Theatre Royal stage. Cassa Pancho’s Ballet Black Double Bill (26 October) features Then and Now, in which Olivier award-winning choreographer Will Tuckett blends classical ballet, poetry and music to explore ideas of home and belonging. The second piece finds another Olivier award-winning choreographer Mthuthuzeli November contemplating the purpose of life in The Waiting Game.

Leeds-based Phoenix Dance celebrate 40 Years of Phoenix (23-24 Nov) with a birthday programme featuring a selection of work by internationally acclaimed and award-winning choreographers, including former artistic directors and collaborators.

A new theatrical version of The Ballad of Johnny Longstaff (28-30 Oct) is performed by BBC Radio 2 Folk Award winners The Young ‘uns. This musical celebration of northern working class activism features songs from the original album alongside new material and animation. It’s the true story of one man’s journey from poverty and unemployment in Stockton-on-Tees through the Hunger Marches of the 1930s, the mass trespass movement and the Battle of Cable Street to fighting fascism in the Spanish Civil War.

English Touring Opera returns with Handel’s Amadigi (11-12 Oct) based on a chivalric romance about three young people imprisoned by a sorceress. York Opera presents The Magic Flute (2-6 Nov), Mozart’s magical and last great opera sung in English with an orchestra.

For younger audiences, Rod Campbell’s much-loved lift-the-flap book leaps off the page in Dear Zoo Live! (28-29 Sept), a show packed full of puppetry, songs and, of course, all the animals from the zoo.


9-18 September – Mugabe, My Dad & Me
24-25 September – Dracula:The Bloody Truth
28-29 September – Dear Zoo Live!
30 Sept-2 Oct – Matthew Bourne’s The Midnight Bell
5-9 October – The Legend of Sleepy Hollow
11-12 October – English Touring Opera: Amadigi
14-16 October – Being Mr Wickham
19-23 October – The Hound of the Baskervilles
26 October – Ballet Black
28-30 October The Ballad of Johnny Longstaff
2-6 November – The Magic Flute
9-20 November – Wuthering Heights
23-24 November – 40 Years of Phoenix

Tickets from £15