York Theatre Royal is to partner with leading pantomime producer Evolution Productions on its next festive show – its first following the controversial overhaul of its Christmas offering.
The theatre will co-produce its 2020/21 pantomime, Cinderella, with Evolution, a move executive director Tom Bird said would give its in-house pantomime “a new lease of life”.
Written by Paul Hendy and directed by associate director Juliet Forster, it is being described as a “fresh, family-friendly” take on Cinderella, and will be York Theatre Royal’s first pantomime since longstanding cast and creative team members left last month amid a row over the theatre’s festive offering.
Berwick Kaler, who had written, co-directed and starred in the pantomime for more than 40 years, was told he would no longer be involved in future shows, as were fellow cast members Martin Barrass, David Leonard, Suzy Cooper and AJ Powell, with Bird claiming that declining ticket sales meant the theatre needed to take a “different direction”.
More than 1,500 people signed a petition protesting their removal. However, the cast was later signed up to star in York’s Grand Opera House pantomime, which is produced with Qdos Entertainment.
The Theatre Royal’s new partnership with Evolution means the two major pantomime players will compete for audiences in York this year.
Run by Hendy and Emily Wood, Evolution produced eight pantomimes across the UK last year, including at Sheffield Theatres and the Marlowe Theatre in Canterbury.
Bird described the partnership and new creative team as “a fairytale combination”.
“This phenomenal team will give the York Theatre Royal pantomime a new lease of life with a fresh, family-friendly, fun-filled approach to the story of Cinderella. It’s a pantomime for the new decade, set with pride in our amazing city.”