THE Joseph Rowntree Theatre's annual annual fundraising show for 2019 will be Kiss Me, Kate, staged from February 6 to 9 by the Joseph Rowntree Theatre Company.

More immediately, the company is "calling all Kates", offering a free ticket to anyone called Kate who would like to bring a mate or a date to the classic Cole Porter musical comedy.

"Please note, this includes all variations of the name, so even Caitlins, Kats and Cates can get a free ticket for their bestie, boyfriend, girlfriend or granny if they buy a full-price ticket for themselves," says producer and director Kayleigh Oliver.

"Just out of interest, we checked how many Kates were already on the Joseph Rowntree Theatre supporter database. Amazingly, there were 55 Kates, 45 Katies, 30 Katherines, three Kats, 74 Catherines and two Cates. Who knew there were so many?!"

To claim your extra free ticket, call 01904 501935 or pop into the Haxby Road box office, either between 10am and 2pm, Monday to Saturday, or on performance evenings, and buy a full-price ticket quoting the code IAmKate. "Whether you bring a mate or a date is up to you. Just don’t take too long to decide because the offer runs out on December 23.

Kiss Me, Kate is the second fundraising production from the in-house company, following its debut in February with a high-kicking, goose-stepping version of Mel Brooks's The Producers that netted £4,500 for improvements at the 83-year-old building.

The Joseph Rowntree Theatre Company was set up last yearto raise funds for the maintenance and development of the JoRo, while entertaining audiences with innovative new productions of both classic and contemporary musicals.

The company was founded by producer-director Kayleigh Oliver, ably supported by assistant director Alex Schofield. Both had previously performed many times on the Joseph Rowntree Theatre stage and were keen to help build on its reputation as a high-quality, inclusive venue.

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"We wanted to give back to the theatre as a thank-you for the support it has shown performers and companies across the city for decades," says Kayleigh. "Most theatres have their own company and, once we put forward our case, the board decided to go for it. They’ve been very generous, giving us free rein to choose our own shows and our own style.’

In choosing The Producers for the company's inaugural show, Kayleigh says: "We wanted to put on a fresh, challenging show that would be as much fun to be in as to watch.

"Our aim is to continue making ambitious choices, to keep aiming high, to have fun and to raise as much money for the ongoing development of the theatre as we can."

Step forward an expanded company in an even more expansive staging of Porter’s  show within a show, Kiss Me, Kate.

"It’s humbling to see so many incredibly talented people, with a range of experience, prepared to put themselves out there and audition for us," says Alex. "It makes us even more determined to ensure everyone gets a chance to shine. It might not be a big number but everyone will have their moment."  

In future, the Joseph Rowntree Theatre Company aims to give other theatre-makers the chance to produce and direct fundraising shows, using the template established by Kayleigh and Alex, with help from their production team and cast.

"By building strong foundations now, we hope to create a lasting legacy," says Kayleigh. 

For details of how to be involved in future shows, whether on stage or behind the scenes, contact