York Theatre Royal Panto 2023 is Jack and The Beanstalk

York Theatre Royal Panto 2023 –  Fi-Fi-Fo-Fun for all the family as CBBC’s James Mackenzie plays the villain in York Theatre Royal’s Jack and the Beanstalk


James Mackenzie, who played the immortal, leather-clad warrior in CBBC’s fantasy adventure game show Raven, is turning to the dark side in pantomime at York Theatre Royal this Christmas. 


The Scottish actor will play the villainous Luke Backinanger in the Fe-Fi-Fo-Fun family pantomime Jack and the Beanstalk from 8 December 2023 to 7 January 2024.


James was the original lead character Raven in the multi-Bafta award-winning show Raven from 2002 to 2010. Raven was a mysterious, leather-clad immortal warlord who led young warriors on a quest to test their skills and win their heart’s desire. The show has garnered cult status, spanning 15 series, and filmed in far-flung exotic locations such as India. Its popularity saw it air from Canada to Australia and lots of places in between.


James has worked for many theatre companies including the National Theatre of Scotland and has performed all over the UK in everything from Macbeth to the musical Sunshine On Leith. He has been a regular in BBC Scotland soap opera River City and made guest appearances in Still Game and Outlander.


Over the past few years he has been introduced to a whole new generation as James in the smash hit CBeebies series Molly and Mack. He has been part of the CBeebies Christmas shows and performed on stage at the Globe for CBeebies Shakespeare. And, of course, like most Scottish actors, he has been in Taggart more than once.


Juliet Forster, Creative Director at York Theatre Royal said: “We are delighted to welcome James Mackenzie to the cast for this year’s panto Jack and the Beanstalk. James is such a well-loved children’s TV personality and we can’t wait to see him strut his stuff as the bad boy of panto.”


As already announced, York pantomime favourite Robin Simpson (Mrs Smee in All New Adventures of Peter Pan and Manky in Cinderella) is returning as Dame. Robin was nominated for a 2021 British Pantomime Award for his role in Cinderella.


Co-produced with Evolution, Jack and the Beanstalk promises stunning sets, lavish costumes, breathtaking special effects and, of course, lots of pantomime magic. The pantomime is written by Paul Hendy and produced and directed by the same team behind the spectacular Cinderella in 2021/22 and All New Adventures of Peter Pan in 2022/2023.


Tickets are proving popular, with a special family ticket off available for all performances. £75 for bookings with three tickets, including at least 1 adult and 1 child, saving up to £52, or £100 for bookings with 4 tickets, including at lease 1 adult and 1 child, saving up to £68.




Review of the York Theatre Royal Panto from Last Year


Following last Christmas’s smash hit Cinderella, writer Paul Hendy and director Juliet Forster team up again for the swashbuckling family pantomime All New Adventures of Peter Pan (December 2 to January 2).  

york theatre royal panto


So, last night saw us at the press night for this year’s panto The All New Adventures of Peter Pan at the York Theatre Royal, and we had a great time!  It was a fantastic mix of traditional panto, acrobatics and songs and dance routines worthy of a West End Show.  A gorgeous glittering set with fabulous costumes complimented the loveable cast.  


York Theatre Royal panto


There was something for everyone.  Lots of silliness for the younger members of the audience and lots of great jokes for the grown ups.  I have to say I laughed a lot at the jokes, and so did my 15 year old sat next to me (not that he would ever admit it!).



The three acrobats were excellent, pulling off some very impressive stunts.  We also loved the flying and the pyrotechnics, as well as the golden streamers at the end.  A fantastic Christmas night out for all the family!




All New Adventures of Peter Pan is on until the 2nd of January, and you can buy tickets here.








Last year’s panto at the York Theatre Royal was Cinderella – 

It’s all change at the York Theatre Royal this year with a new style panto and cast in the eternal favourite Cinderella.  We all went along to see what it was like (oh, yes, we did!).  A panto really is a highlight of Christmas, and this was no exception. 

Panto York Theatre Royal

The new style panto catered much more to younger families, and not just because Dandini was played by familiar face, Andy Day from CBeebies.  The style, and jokes were more accessible to children.  In fact, I was a little worried during the performance that my great hulking teens might be finding it a little young for their taste.  I needn’t have worried though, they really enjoyed it and discussed it (almost) enthusiastically on the way home, which is as ringing an endorsement as you get from a young teen!

Panto York Theatre Royal


There was a great mix of jokes, singing and dancing as well as some impressive fairy dust when the Cinderella coach came to life and (practically) flew out into the audience.  I also loved the graceful aerial silks act (think acrobatics, hanging from long fabric ribbons fastened at the top of the stage).  The panto featured some great comedic characters – Buttons will be very popular with the younger visitors, a friendly, likeable character with his sidekick Gordon the monkey.  We also loved the raucous humour of the two ugly sisters.



If you haven’t got your tickets yet, get them snapped up.  It’s a perfect night out, especially if you have some younger members in your family – they will love it!




Official Info

This timeless rags-to-riches story will be relocated to the city of York, with the stage coming to sparkling life with magical transformations, glittering sets, stunning songs and side-splitting laughs. Co-producing with Evolution, one of the country’s most successful and award-winning pantomime producers, the Theatre Royal is creating a brand new pantomime for everyone – with the promise of a truly epic spectacle and heaps of hilarity.

York Theatre Royal Panto


Cast Announcement!

One of CBeebies most popular personalities Andy Day is joined by two familiar faces from York Theatre Royal’s Travelling Pantomime – Robin Simpson and Faye Campbell – in Cinderella at York Theatre Royal this Christmas.

This most magical pantomime of all can be seen from 3 December to 2 January.


Since joining CBeebies in 2007 Andy Day (Dandini) has become widely known as a presenter and for his animal and nature programmes in which he tackled dinosaurs, investigated baby animals and went on safari. In 2009 he was nominated for a Children’s BAFTA award for best presenter.


His previous pantomime appearances include the CBeebies annual televised pantomime as well as the Genie in Aladdin, Dandini in Cinderella, Muddles in Snow White and Billy Goose in Mother Goose.

York Theatre Royal Panto


Andy also fronts his own live band Andy and the Odd Socks. They will again be launching Odd Socks Day for Anti Bullying Week in schools up and down the country alongside The Anti Bullying Alliance, a charity of which Andy is a passionate Patron.


Faye Campbell (Cinderella)  played The Hero in Jack and the Beanstalk and Dick Whittington in York Theatre Royal’s Travelling Pantomime last December. Actor and storyteller Robin Simpson (Sister) was Dame Trott in the Travelling Pantomime, after playing dame for three years at the Lawrence Batley Theatre in Huddersfield. He’s joined as the other Sister by Paul Hawkyard.


Comedian and ventriloquist Max Fulham (Buttons) has played leading comedy roles in pantomimes throughout the UK, being voted Best Speciality Act in the British Pantomime Awards. Max has created his own comedy series called Drivel Pedlar for his You Tube channel. In summer 2022 he’ll play Muddles in Snow White at the new Sydney Coliseum in Australia.


The cast is completed by Benjamin Lafayette (Prince Charming) and Sarah Leatherbarrow (Fairy Godmother).


The Theatre Royal’s Cinderella will relocate the timeless rags-to-riches story to the city of York, with the stage coming to sparkling life with magical transformations, glittering sets, stunning songs and side-splitting laughs.


Co-producing with Evolution, one of the country’s most successful and award-winning pantomime producers, York Theatre Royal is creating a brand new pantomime for everyone – with the promise of a truly epic spectacle and heaps of hilarity.


York Theatre Royal Panto


Cinderella will be directed by York Theatre Royal Creative Director Juliet Forster, director of last year’s highly successful Travelling Pantomime which toured to community venues in York and also this summer’s production of Around the World in 80 Days.


York Theatre Royal Chief Executive Tom Bird says:

“We are over the moon to be creating a spectacular new pantomime for the people of York – one that’s tailor-made for the whole family, while honouring the pantomime traditions that our audiences love so much.


“The phenomenal team will give the York Theatre Royal pantomime a new lease of life with a fresh, family-friendly, fun-filled approach to the story of Cinderella, set with pride in our amazing city.”


Evolution Productions was started by Emily Wood and Paul Hendy in 2005 and has built a reputation for superior, bespoke pantomimes with the emphasis on high quality production values, strong casting and genuinely funny scripts. They have twice won Pantomime of the Year at the Great British Pantomime Awards. They are the team behind Sheffield Theatres’ extraordinarily successful pantomime in the Lyceum Theatre.


Producer and writer Paul Hendy says:

“Emily and I are absolutely thrilled to be working with York Theatre Royal on Cinderella. We are huge fans of the theatre and we’re looking forward to collaborating with Tom and his brilliant team to produce a wonderful, family friendly pantomime with spectacular production values, a superbly talented cast, and a genuinely funny script.”