Pantomime

Not been short on local news this week with a lot of speculation that the Theatre Royal’s annual pantomime will be ditched.

The seasonal event was a favourite with many residents and attracted a loyal following. In the 80.s and 90’s the income from the pantomime kept the Theatre Royal afloat.

The audience numbers were so large that the Opera House, and briefly also the Barbican, put on competing pantomimes.

Lots of people were prepared to pay for “more of the same” right up to the time that the star Berwick Kaler announced his retirement last year. Tickets sales were down, and reviews were mixed, for this years “Kalerless” event (he did do some script-writing).

With the benefit of hindsight, the Theatre might have been wise to boost the cast with some fresh – well known – names this year.

The theatre then announced last week that it would be taking “brave” decisions, so the writing was one the wall.

It coincided with a bid from the Theatre Royal for £500,000 of investment by the York Council. That implied a need for an ongoing public subsidy level similar to that seen in the last decade.

We have no doubt that there will be at least one pantomime in York next Christmas.

Nostalgia rules with a seasonal production of the 70 year old “White Christmas” having pulled in big West End audiences this season. The Theatre Royal needs to exploit that market. The City’s seasonal background atmosphere offers a huge marketing advantage.

Whether the present cast of the traditional panto can find another venue for their product – and continue to attract audiences – will become clear later in the year.

The Theatre Royals plans should become clearer this week.

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