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Joseph Rowntree Theatre Today

What does the Joseph Rowntree Theatre offer today?

In 2017 the charity purchased the freehold and we now run our much loved community asset with the help of over 170 volunteers aged from 16 to over 90 years and, usually, without any external financial assistance.

As well as providing a place for the local community to take part in cultural activities, we also provide volunteers with the opportunity to learn new skills, from working backstage with our technical equipment and volunteer stage managers, to customer facing roles including running box office and front of house. We give many people first-hand experience of working in a theatre. We also offer the opportunity for volunteers to use their skills managing the premises and maintaining the grounds.

“We have visited often and are always amazed at the standard of productions. The theatre is small and intimate. Children are made welcome. Love it.”

A full house eagerly waiting for Oddsocks Productions to take to the stage

Full house waiting for the show to start

 Our auditorium comfortably seats 365 patrons with every seat having an uninterrupted view of the stage. 

Performing companies, including touring professionals, can stage highly technical shows with multiple scenery changes courtesy of our flying system and the professional standards of our theatre’s volunteers and equipment. The theatre regularly hosts fully staged musicals, plays, operas and operettas, as well as hosting pantomime, gang shows and many dance and drama school exhibitions.

“Lovely intimate theatre offering a great variety of entertainment. Well kept venue and great view wherever you sit in the theatre. Local amateur dramatics groups there so ticket prices are not over inflated either.”

Over the years the Joseph Rowntree Theatre has been a cultural home to generations, where people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities come together.

“Lovely evening at this unique theatre. l have been attending performances from the age of 5 years, now nearly 75. l find it still is a great venue for all the various productions.

Community productions

With eight regular production companies taking to the stage with an average of fifteen shows per year, our theatre is a hive of performance activity. We offer professional standard facilities providing a venue for performing companies to produce superb performances for all ages.

“The personal impact that being part of this wonderful production has had is something that can’t be measured less easily; in bringing together so many like-minded people, this company has allowed me to push myself beyond the limits I had previously placed upon myself.”

"Made in Dagenham" finale from Joseph Rowntree Theatre Company

The finale of Made In Dagenham

A production of “Jesus Christ Superstar” set many technical challenges - all were met

Jesus Christ Superstar by York Musical Theatre Company


The Rowntree Players’ pantomime is very much a local community affair.  Written and directed by local artists, the production is suitable for absolutely all ages and is simply all-round good, affordable fun for all.  It brings a large cast within the production to an audience of over 3,500 people over 10 performances.

“The panto at Joseph Rowntree Theatre is always truly family inclusive. This year's production really excelled and the lighting and special effects were brilliant. For a theatre providing a venue for amateurs, and run by volunteers, it is wonderful.”

 “I took my six-year old granddaughter to see the panto last night and she loved it. Amateur dramatics are fantastic, so professional. The facilities here are great and everyone does a great job to ensure you have a great experience. Would highly recommend it.” 

Rowntree Players 2019 Panto "Sinbad" setting sail

Sinbad - Pantomime cast on the ships deck

Youth theatres

The theatre is the performance venue for five local groups who provide performance opportunities for young people to take part in large-scale musical productions. The young performers are given the experience of taking part in shows, working with others and making lifelong friends.

"Cats" performed by York Light Youth

The cast of York Light Youth's Cats production

Dance and drama schools

The first time many young performers take to our stage, we welcome over eight dance and drama schools every year, providing the opportunity to over 500 enthusiastic dancers, singers and actors to take part in performances

“Another great visit to watch my daughter take part in a dance show. The show was fantastic. The theatre is a great venue. Run and staffed by friendly volunteers. The production quality is very high. We are lucky to have such a place in York.”

Jazz Hands strutting their stuff

Young performers



Here are some more comments from satisfied customers.

“Amazing value for an excellent live theatre performance.”

“Love this theatre. Comfortable seating and no matter where you sit in the stalls the view is good.”

“A cracker of a theatre with some superb acts taking place throughout the year.”

 “Wonderful community theatre. Always friendly and welcoming.”


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