The York Theatre Royal pantomime this year is at the National Railway Museum! The theatre had hoped to be open again after a refurb in time for the panto but as with a lot of building projects in York, they found ancient ruins which had to be investigated.
Staging the panto, Dick Wittington (and his meerkat), at the Signal Box Theatre at the museum has meant some imaginative working out of entrances and exits. The audience sits facing eachother on two ‘platforms’ with a railway track in between along which incredibly hard-working stage hands push and pull sections of stage with sets or sometimes a train on them and move them up and down even while the cast are acting and dancing on them! There is the usual filmed section and a luminous underwater section. Other railway-related plays have been staged here during the theatre renovations. The main actors have been doing the Theatre Royal panto together for years so work wonderfully together.
The panto is not to everyone’s taste but members of my family who have come with us on occasion who are not York residents, have also found it hilarious and didn’t find the local references or in-jokes at all alienating!
We received an e-mail a day or so in advance explaining about parking in some detail but I still found it a bit confusing – we got a cab in the end and there were lots of marshals on hand to direct you. There are disabled parking bays.
Access from the carpark is a little bumpy but my scooter coped all right and there are ramps to get you in to the venue itself. We had front row seats so no steps were involved and then the scooter was stored during the performance.
I’m looking forward to next year at the revamped theatre as access will be much better than it used to be but I thoroughly recommend going to the panto at this venue because it is a different but just as excellent an experience.