The original cast members of York Theatre Royal’s axed pantomime have been thrown a lifeline by the city’s Grand Opera House and Qdos Entertainment.
Berwick Kaler, Martin Barrass, David Leonard, Suzy Cooper and AJ Powell will all star in next year’s production of Dick Turpin Rides Again, which is being produced by Qdos Entertainment.
Members of the company feared for their jobs after York Theatre Royal’s artistic director Tom Bird announced the venue was overhauling its Christmas show and told the long-standing panto actors they wouldn’t “necessarily be involved again”.
Bird cited falling ticket sales and a new creative team as the reasons behind the decision.
The venue faced criticism as more than 1,500 people signed an online petition to prevent the cast being ousted.
Kaler, who played the dame in the York Theatre Royal pantomime for 40 years, said: “Qdos Entertainment have come to the rescue of the most lauded pantomime in the country, having found us a new home at the Grand Opera House in our beloved city of York.
“We can go forth with a management that believes we have enhanced the reputation of a local pantomime that has caught the imagination of young and old, from all walks of life,” he added.
In addition to performing, Kaler will also write and direct the production.
Qdos Entertainment managing director Michael Harrison said: “I have long admired Berwick’s pantomimes – in fact his own brand of pantomime madness was the inspiration behind the shows I have created at both Newcastle Theatre Royal and the London Palladium.
“Little did I realise when I was watching Berwick’s shows that one day I’d be able to work with him and his team on a York pantomime,” he added.
The pantomime will play at Grand Opera House from December 12 until January 10, 2021.