BERWICK Kaler gave The Theatre Royal three days to reconsider its decision to shake up next year's pantomime performance - which was met with applause from the audience on the final night.

The former dame - and director of this year's show - took to the stage at the end of the final performance, and told ardent pantomime fans that the theatre "can't do this to us".

He added that he was "furious" that the company, who last week announced that a new creative team will be appointed for next year's pantomime and that the current stars will not automatically be offered a role in future productions, could do this to them and that they were "ruining the company's close relationship with pantomime goers".

His comment was greeted with shouts 'Off with his head', referring to Executive Director Tom Bird, who announced the news earlier in the week. 

The Theatre refused to comment further, adding that they took the decision "with a heavy heart".

The last performance included several ad-hoc lines from the shows long-time cast members, Martin Barrass, Suzy Cooper, David Leonard and A.J Powell, that highlighted their sadness at the shows ending.

Most of the cast were in floods of tears as Berwick gave a farewell speech to the audience.

York Press:

Several theatregoers told The Press that they would not be returning to the Pantomime next year if the decision to change the cast went ahead.

One said: "It's a travesty. I have been coming here for over 30 years with my family and we absolutely adore all the cast. 

"I cannot believe they would give up the cast that we as a city love. I will not be returning if it goes ahead."

Writing to the City of York Council last week, Tom Bird, executive director of the Theatre Royal, said: "Our pantomime has been the subject of a huge amount of publicity in recent days.

"With a very heavy heart, we have had to take the decision that our pantomime must change in order for it to survive and thrive. This will involve a new creative team, and there will not be an automatic offer to the current stars of the show, as we wish for the new creative team to have free rein to create a pantomime for the city on their own terms."

Berwick Kaler added: " I just can’t understand that someone can do this to something that does not need fixing. We have made money for this theatre every year for years. How can one man do this to us? I don’t understand it.”

Meanwhile, Martin Barrass broke theatre’s fourth wall to speak from the heart, adding that it was "a decision that is nothing to do with us. If it was, we would be back each year until we drop."

The Theatre is expected to announce its next winter show on February 3.