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In The Shadows

York Theatre Royal’s novel approach to the new season

Friday, 5 July 2024 12:34

By Barbara Constable

Classic novels Little Women and Pride and Prejudice come to the stage of York Theatre Royal in the autumn/winter season with both productions offering fresh takes on familiar stories.

These productions follow the spectacular family summer show - a new circus-themed production of Juliet Forster’s Around the World in 80 Days-ish! (July 8-Aug 3) which puts a new spin on another literary favourite - Jules Verne’s story of globe-trotting Phileas Fogg’s race across the world.

Juliet Forster also directs the York Theatre Royal production of Louisa May Alcott’s classic coming-of-age story Little Women (21 Sept-12 Oct). Anna Marie Casey’s adaptation promises a new look at the story of headstrong Jo and her sisters Meg, Beth and Amy, growing up in New England during the American civil war. There will be a special fund-raising performance of Little Women on Oct 02 to support York Theatre Royal’s work as a producing house and activity in the community.

Pride and Prejudice* (*sort of) - by Isobel McArthur after Jane Austen - promises to be “a unique and audacious retelling of Jane Austen’s most iconic love story”. Or as the publicity blurb puts it: “It’s the 1800s. It’s party time. Let the ruthless matchmaking begin”.

The literary theme continues as one of fiction’s most popular detectives Ian Rankin’s Rebus treads the boards in a new play Rebus: A Game Called Malice (15-19 October) with Glasgow-born Gray O’Brien, best known for long-running roles Coronation Street and Casualty, as Rebus. This new play by the detective’s creator Ian Rankin and Simon Reade finds Rebus at a dinner party in a stately home, at which guests are required by the hostess to play a murder mystery game she has thought up.

Sally Cookson directs Wonder Boy (29 Oct-2 Nov), described as “a heartwarming and inspiring story about the power of communication packed with playful humour, dazzling visuals and thrilling original music”. This innovative production includes live creative captioning on stage throughout”.

Dance features strongly in the season starting with London City Ballet - Resurgence (Sept 6 & 7), a mixed bill of new work and classic masterpieces as London City Ballet returns to stages across the world after an absence of almost 30 years.

In Company Wayne McGregor: Autobiography (V102 and V103) (Oct 25 & 26) genetic code, AI and choreography merge in a work that re-imagines and remakes itself anew for every performance as “artificial intelligence and instinct converge in creative authorship”.

Everybody Dance Festival (Nov 12 & 13) will showcase and celebrate dance in school and community settings.

One-nighters include An Evening with Simon Russell Beale (Sept 10) in which the Olivier Award-winning actor delves into his life and career to celebrate his memoir A Piece of Work. An Evening with Simon Armitage and Lyr (Jan 24features poetry reading and live performance.

Comedy includes Stewart Lee returning with Stewart Lee vs The Man Wulf (Jan 28-Feb 1) and Ivo Thomas: Grand Design (Nov 20).

Former Leeds Playhouse artistic director Jude Kelly hosts The WOW Show (Oct 13) - that’s WOW as in Woman of the World, an organisation founded by Jude – and promises an evening of optimism, determination and laughter.

The ‘roarsome’ interactive show Dinosaur World Live (Oct 21 & 22) – which has won an Olivier award as best family show – brings to life some very big creatures indeed.

In Sancho & Me (Nov 14) Paterson Joseph, accompanied by co-creator and musical director Ben Park, present a show based around Paterson’s recent novel The Secret Diaries of Charles Ignatius Sancho.

Shows in the STUDIO include Anna Hibiscus’ Song (Sept 5-7), an. Adaptation of Atinuke’s children’s book told through music, dance, puppets and traditional African storytelling and the John Godber Company present The Highwayman (Nov 17).

The Studio will also be taking on a new role as a cabaret club after a makeover and a name change to The Old Paint Shop (Oct 5-26) which will feature regular cabaret nights of comedy, music, improv and burlesque by local artists.

Two York stage companies feature in the season. York Actors Collective (YAC) make their debut at the theatre in the Studio with a production of Mary Rose (30 Oct-2 Nov), a haunting tale of love and loss by Peter Pan author J.M.Barrie. Then early in 2025 York Light returns with the award-winning musical Legally Blonde (13-22 Feb).

2024 ends with Robin Simpson and Paul Hawkyard returning as dame and baddie in the family pantomime Aladdin (3 December-5 January) following their hilarious pairing as Mrs Smee and Captain Hook in All New Adventures of Peter Pan. The pair first teamed up as Ugly Sisters in Cinderella. They’re joined in Aladdin by CBBC and Ceebies star Evie Pickerill with BBC Let It Shine winner Sario Solomon in the title role.

 Paul Crewes, CEO of York Theatre Royal said, “We are really looking forward to our upcoming season, and the opportunity to create work for our stage. We have some fabulous treats for you made right here in York by our creative teams - including this summer's circus extravaganza Around The World in 80 Days-Ish!,  a stunning new adaptation of Little Women, and our very own pantomime Aladdin. Alongside our own work, we are excited to welcome some amazing dance to our stage, including for the first time, Sir Wayne McGregor’s world-renowned company. The Drama is excellent and award winning, and the Comedy, well what can I say except Stewart Lee!!  As well as all this we are launching the Old Paint Shop, our very own Cabaret venue. Oh, and Sir Simon Russell Beale, and Simon Armitage and his band and much more..!”

Members priority booking opened on Wednesday 3rd July with general on sale from 1pm on Mon 08 July. 

Tickets available via box office 01904 623568 |yorktheatreroyal.co.uk

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