WHAT a lovely surprise to find the Joseph Rowntree Theatre had been added to the many visitor attractions as part of the recent York Residents Festival.

The weather was very cold, with snow forecast, but I was determined to make it first on my list of places to visit.

Sixty years ago, as an 18-year-old member of the Rowntree’s Youth Club, I had enjoyed all the friendship, fun and hard work, rehearsing for Aladdin, which we presented for a week in the theatre.

I couldn’t wait for Saturday to arrive to begin my trip down memory lane, behind the scenes.

Our guided tour began in the auditorium, beautifully lit with spotlights of every colour – then, on to the stage, treading the boards (happy days).

Next we moved into the wings, beautifully equipped now with 21st-century technology – then under the stage to reach the orchestra pit, then to the dressing rooms, with costumes, make up and curtain calls.

On then to the prompter’s corner on stage, and close by the vast space where scenery and props are held.

And finally a visit to the balcony with a magnificent view of the theatre – beautifully preserved, and there, on the staircase wall, was a framed photograph of Mary Healey, just as I remember her, looking magnificent in her principal boy outfit, together with the cast of Aladdin, 60 years ago.

In those 60 years, the theatre has nurtured and encouraged many of York’s talented performers, young and older.

Brenda Allison, Pear Tree Court, Aldwark, York.