Pantomime review by Julia Pattison: The Grand Old Dame of York at the Theatre Royal - Berwick Kaler’s final panto

Berwick Kaler and Suzy Cooper in The Grand Old Dame of York. Photo by Anthony Robling.
Berwick Kaler and Suzy Cooper in The Grand Old Dame of York. Photo by Anthony Robling.

Venue: York Theatre Royal

Dates: Until 2nd February 2019

Review by: Julia Pattison

Well, what a wonderful Motley crew gathering for this year’s very special, significant York Theatre Royal’s pantomime, The Grand Old Dame of York.

I attended the Press Night as Dame Berwick Kaler was beginning his 40th and final panto in York alongside his trusted and much loved Three Musketeers, sidekick Martin Barrass, sensational Suzy Cooper, and super villain David Leonard.

What a fun-packed evening it was too for all the Dame’s “Babbies and Bairns” in the audience, kept on tenterhooks at the beginning with the Dame’s first appearance being deliberately delayed.

Popular “newcomer” AJ Powell set female hearts a fluttering as he sang about his determination to be a star, and the ensemble dazzled and enchanted the audience with their energetic dance numbers and singing.

The set and costume designs by Mark Walters were a joy to behold, as always, and the first half of the panto was wonderfully manic, with old fashioned slapstick scenes involving Berwick playing both Molly Motley and her “Yarkshire” long lost husband in one sequence – hilarious!

There was pathos too, as Molly sang a sad ballad, while all around her the stage crew packed away the set; the end of an era.

Berwick’s Three Musketeers were on fine form; Martin Barrass gaining our sympathy as always as he suffered humiliation stoically at the Dame’s hands, David Leonard delighting us all with his charisma and comic timing as “thwarted“ villain Les Miserable, and other entertaining roles such as the manic Dentist (shades of Little Shop of Horrors) a French Max Wall, and later, the Big Bad Wolf, and scintillating Suzy Cooper surpassing herself with two stunning scenes with David Leonard (no spoilers, you are encouraged to see this for yourself).

In the second half there was more of the usual fabulous “rubbish” including the fun “thwarting” of the villain, lots more singing and dancing, and “plot development” and of course, the much anticipated “filum”, which pulled out all the stops – chocks away chaps, as Berwick flies his final York Panto mission.

Chin up chaps; what a wonderful way to go – with all cylinders firing, and passing the mantle onto the “Family” Team at York Theatre Royal.

A fond, fabulous farewell to York’s favourite adopted son from Sunderland; eeh by gum, yer Babbies and Bairns will miss yer pet! All the best.