YORK Theatre Royal has launched its pantomime for this Christmas - its first on site since before the pandemic.

And while there is set to be another high-profile panto in the city this year, theatre bosses say they are just glad to be back and don’t want any rivalry.

Cinderella will take the stage at York Theatre Royal from December 3 to January 2, with elements of the story set in York.

Julie Forster, who directed a ‘Travelling Panto’ last year, is also directing Cinderella.

Tom Bird, chief executive at York Theatre Royal, said: “It’s incredibly emotional to be welcoming a panto back, and so lovely to be back in the theatre, with the full machine - the equipment, big scenery, special effects, and wonderful costumes.”

York Press: The Cinderella cast, with, third from right, Benjamin Lafayette as Prince Charming

The theatre’s former long-serving panto dame, Berwick Kaler, is starring this year in Dick Turpin Rides Again across the city centre at the Grand Opera House.

But Mr Bird said: “We don’t want there to be a rivalry, we’re just delighted for panto to be back for people to enjoy.

“We have a brilliant mix of actors, including CBeebies’ Andy Day playing Dandini, who is loved by so many kids, and other actors from our brilliant travelling panto.”

Cinderella’s Prince Charming, Benjamin Lafayette, will be acting in his first panto. He said: “To act is a gift to give people, and now the fourth wall is gone, and we will be full of adrenaline - I’ve observed other pantos I’ve watched before.

York Press: The pantomime sisters - Robin Simpson who played Dame Trott in Travelling Pantomime, and Paul Hawkyard  Picture: Emily Horner

“Prince Charming will interact and be friends with the audience, and they will get more of an inside view into his character.”

Fairy Godmother, Sarah Leatherbarrow, is also new to panto, having never actually seen one!

She said: “I’m looking forward to interacting with audiences for the first time. I love entertaining northern audiences as they’re so friendly.

York Press: The sisters with Andy Day, centre, who plays Dandini Picture: Emily Horner

“It feels amazing to be back with a full scale panto after a worrying time, back with a bang and some fairy dust.”

For tickets call the box office on 01904 623568 or visit yorktheatreroyal.co.uk