Refurbished York Theatre Royal!

Our annual trip to the panto at York Theatre Royal was extra interesting as this was our first visit since the theatre reopened after its £6 million refurbishment.

Theatre Royal (dezeen.com)
Theatre Royal (dezeen.com)

It now incorporates what was an open-air colonnade (previously full of fag-ends and pigeon poo!), now glassed in and turned into a bar/café area and expanded box office and all beautifully accessible with automatic doors.

The auditorium, Theatre Royal (dezeen.com)
The auditorium, Theatre Royal (dezeen.com)

There is also a lift up to the Dress Circle, and there are wheelchair spaces both there and in the stalls. There are several rows at the front of the stalls where there are no steps; the rest of the stalls have been raked. We were in row C and it only really occurred to us once we were seated that there wasn’t much room for people to get past to their seats further along. People were very accommodating and either went round a different way or stepped over but we realised that if you were in row B, you wouldn’t have this issue as there is no seat in front of the end seat – we shall have to book very early next year to get the perfect seat!

Bar area, Theatre Royal (dezeen.com)
Bar area, Theatre Royal (dezeen.com)

I was able to leave my scooter over by the wall – the nearby steward was quite happy for us to leave it there as it was not in anyone’s way.

I think generally the alterations are for the better – there is so much more space: it used to be quite a crush in the foyer before a performance.

Foyer, Theatre Royal (dezeen.com)
Foyer, Theatre Royal (dezeen.com)

The accessible loos (at ground at Dress Circle level) are new and good and the stewards all very friendly and helpful. As before, they provide booster seats for small children, have audio-described and BSL interpreted performances and the ice-creams at the interval are fabulous!

As for the panto – it’s a bit of institution and people seem to love it or hate it! We’ve been every year for the past 25, sometimes with members of my family who loved it too – you don’t need to be local to enjoy it. They don’t include any smut and the odd political comments are infrequent and mild. There was plenty of opportunity to boo and hiss the baddy and a fair bit of other audience participation.

Café, Theatre Royal (dezeen.com)
Café, Theatre Royal (dezeen.com)

I definitely recommend it and recommend checking out the refurbishment if you have ever visited the theatre and not found it very user-friendly – it’s so much more accessible now!

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Russian musicians play faster when it’s cold!

NCEM entrance

Koshka are a trio, Lev Atlas and Oleg Ponomarev on violin and Nigel Clark on guitar, playing Russian gypsy folk, sometimes sinuous and haunting, sometimes jazzy and foot-tapping, always excellent, at least going by last night’s concert at the National Centre for Early Music (NCEM) in York. We also had a listen to them on youtube in advance.

They were joined for a few numbers by Lev’s daughter (didn’t catch her name!) – Russian folk songs in the first half and a couple of night-club numbers in the second.

We have tended to avoid smaller groups at the NCEM as it needs a bigger sound to fill the place but with music of this quality, it wasn’t a problem, there was so much variety – and some amusing anecdotes in between.

I would definitely recommend catching Koshka if they are appearing near you – I’m sure no one could resist their folky, jazzy sound!

NCEM entrance
NCEM entrance

The NCEM is a wonderful venue I have reviewed before as we often go. It is accessible and spacious, has two Blue Badge spaces in the carpark on Percy’s Lane and you can park in the street outside. There is an accessible loo and the staff are very helpful – offering to move chairs if need be for example. They serve drinks beforehand and at the interval and there are leaflets and fliers for other events displayed at an accessible height.

We’ve never been to an event there that wasn’t great, so it’s definitely worth keeping an eye on their events calendar if you are in the vicinity!