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Robin Hood And His Merry Mam!, York Theatre Royal, December 13 to February 2
2:27pm Friday 17th August 2012 in Theatre
DAVID Leonard will not be in the York Theatre Royal pantomime, Robin Hood And His Merry Mam!, missing out for the first time since Cinderella in 1995.
While you absorb this baddie news – David is committed to a year’s contract in the West End as Miss Trunchbull in Matilda The Musical – York Twenty4Seven can reveal that David’s dastardly villain has a stand-in of the very highest order.
The familiar face of Jonathan Race will play Sheriff Hutton, having made his mark as a repertory company regular at the Theatre Royal in the war-poet title role of Rupert Brooke and as Ratty in The Wind In The Willows; Rev Hale in The Crucible; the waspish Larry in My Family And Other Animals; Tempest, the role Alan Bennett played in his own play, 40 Years On; and earlier this year, junior doctor Bruce in Blue/Orange, the best Studio production of 2012.
You also may recall Jonathan’s ripping turn as Peter in the Theatre Royal’s production of The Railway Children at the National Railway Museum two summers running. Latterly he has been honing his pantomime craft with Kenneth Alan Taylor, the Nottingham Playhouse writer-dame-director equivalent of Berwick Kaler , playing Evil Eric (part of a comedy double act rather than a villain) in Mother Goose in 2010 and Beast in Beauty And The Beast in 2009.
Enter Race, exit Leonard, and re-enter Berwick’s nephew Vincent Gray as the Essex eye-candy for northern girls in the title role – Robin Hood, not his Merry Mam obviously – after two winters away in Germany and beyond in the Queen musical We Will Rock You.
Mam, or Mrs Hattie Hood if you want to be formal, will of course be played by dame, writer and co-director Berwick Kaler in the old ham’s 33rd pantomime in York and his 40th in total, having first played the villain’s role.
Serial stooge Martin Barrass will bounce back as Geoffrey Hood after negotiating an early exit from the National Theatre production of One Man, Two Guvnors (see the full story below). Jolly sooper Suzy Cooper will take on the principal girl role of Maid Marian to celebrate her 18th Theatre Royal panto, while another regular returnee, Sian Howard, will follow up her dual role as regal Britannia and Aussie outback guru Sheila in Swiss Family Robinson with another double act: Lady Hamalot and Broomhilda.
AJ Powell – the exaggerated Brummie who thinks “you’re luvverly” – is back too, this time as Ice Blundell, a budding minstrel who can’t play a note. “It’s a role he was born to play,” or so says the panto press release.
Like AJ, Jamie Harris has been talent-spotted by Berwick Kaler to rise from the chorus ranks, in his case for camp cameos, such as the pucker Jolly Roger last Christmas and now Butch, the miller’s son. Chorus roles go once more to Jamie Sutton, Danielle Mullan and Lauren Newton. As usual a chorus of young people will join the team, with auditions being held in the autumn, and the production also requires two sets of children to play Prince Thomas and Princess Cherisse.
Artistic director Damian Cruden will again endeavor “to try to co-direct” with Dame Kaler for the 15th year, but as a precaution he has already booked himself in for his annual nervous breakdown.
Meanwhile, David Leonard will return to the Cambridge Theatre stage in London on Tuesday after recuperating from an injury that forced him to take time out from playing the terrifying Miss Trunchbull, wicked headmistress of Crunchem Hall, in the Royal Shakespeare Company’s musical adaptation of the Roald Dahl story. He first joined the show on July 3.
- Robin Hood And His Merry Mam! will run at York Theatre Royal from December 13 to February 2 next year and sold more than 15,000 tickets already. Box office: 01904 623568 or yorktheatreroyal.co.uk