NEWS: Summer of Love Season at York Theatre

York Theatre Royal is on the move again. Following the success of its Travelling Pantomime which visited 16 venues in the city at Christmas, the theatre is going global in its Summer of Love season.

Following the conclusion of the “Love Season” currently on show at York Theatre Royal, the teams will be carrying on the theme with the “Summer of Love”. Three shows will take place during the season, an Open air production of Around the World in 80 Days; the world premiere of Mugabe, My Dad & Me; and a revival of Educating Rita with Stephen Tompkinson.


A fresh adaptation of the Jules Verne classic story Around the World in 80 Days will tour to three outdoor venues in York and end the tour on stage at the Theatre Royal between 6 and 21 August.

The adaptation is by the theatre’s Creative Director Juliet Forster, who directed the Travelling Pantomime and Love Bites, the love letter to live performance that re-opened the theatre after Covid restrictions eased on May 17.

Juliet said: “As one of the characters in the play says: ‘If you can’t travel to exciting parts of the globe this summer, don’t despair – we are here to bring the world to you!’ That is the spirit of this production really.

“Many of us are feeling disappointed that there are still a lot of restrictions around travelling this summer, so this show is the perfect opportunity for some armchair tourism – or rather, picnic blanket tourism.

“Jules Verne’s story is a lot of fun as the characters race against time to complete a full circuit of the earth, and in this version, fact and fiction also go head to head as real-life investigative journalist Nellie Bly, puts in an appearance. It’s going to be a joyful, very energetic, very silly and highly acrobatic re-telling of the story, delivering the kind of experience that live theatre does best.”

Around the World in 80 Days will be designed by Sara Perks, whose previous work at York includes Everything Is Possible: The York Suffragettes and Brideshead Revisited.

The production will be staged outdoors on playing fields at Carr Junior School (6-8 August), Archbishop Holgate School (14-16 Aug) and Joseph Rowntree School (18-21 Aug), and then indoors at York Theatre Royal from 25-28 Aug. A fourth outdoor venue will be confirmed soon.

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Audiences can also travel to Africa in the Summer of Love as Mugabe, My Dad and Me has its delayed world premiere from 9-18 September. The production was originally scheduled to debut in May 2020 but postponed after theatres closed as a result of the Covid pandemic.

The play, presented by York Theatre Royal and English Touring Theatre in association with Alison Holder, is written and performed by Tonderai Munyevu. It charts the rise and fall of controversial leader Robert Mugabe through the personal story of Tonderai’s family and his relationship with his father.

The play was shortlisted for the Alfred Fagon Award 2019.

Directing is York Theatre Royal Artistic Associate John R. Wilkinson, whose previous work includes Athol Fugard’s Hello & Goodbye at York Theatre Royal and Winter at the Young Vic for which he won the 2018 Genesis Future Directors Award.

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The critically-acclaimed production of Willy Russell’s Educating Rita, starring Stephen Tompkinson and Jessica Johnson, comes to York Theatre Royal from 31 August to 4 September. Directing is Max Roberts, Emeritus Artistic Director at Newcastle’s Live Theatre.

Educating Rita was originally commissioned by the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1980 and later made into an award-winning film with Julie Walters and Michael Caine. It follows married Liverpool hairdresser Rita and her encounters with university tutor Frank while studying on an Open University course.

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