After many weeks of deliberation, it is with a very heavy heart that the Rowntree Players’ committee has eventually decided that this year’s pantomime, Dick Whittington, will not go ahead this year, but will be back better than ever in December 2021. The show will run from 4-11th December with both evening and matinee performances.
Having worked closely with the board of trustees at the Joseph Rowntree Theatre, where the annual “rollicking romp of a panto” has taken place, with only a few breaks, for more than seventy years, Howard Ella, one of the co-writers and the director of the show, explains that the decision was not taken lightly.
Howard says, “ We could have considered performing to a small audience, with a three piece band, no chorus, a limited cast and set, no shout-outs from the audience but, let’s be honest, that would not be the Rowntree Players’ panto everybody knows and loves. We have never done a compromised show and nor do we want to start to. The script is locked in a secure vault in Alderman Fitzwarren’s bank ready for auditions in summer next year.”
The decision comes as the viability of Christmas pantomimes across the country is being assessed. At a time when many venues themselves are perilously close to closure, the Joseph Rowntree Theatre is unique in York in that it is owned by the charity that runs it and has no staff overheads, run as it is by more than 170 volunteers.
Dan Shrimpton, chair of the board of trustees of the theatre says, “We wholeheartedly support Howard and his committee’s decision on this year’s pantomime, heart-breaking though it is. The ten day run of performances in December is the real highlight of the theatre’s year, but we look forward to welcoming the Rowntree Players back next year with the postponed show. The show will go on – oh, yes it will!”
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, does not require any knowledge of previous shows or of the local area, and is simply all- round good, affordable fun for all.
Tickets will go on sale from the Joseph Rowntree Theatre box office in the summer of 2021 and are expected to sell very well, given the uncertainty surrounding many other local pantomimes.
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