Open house for theatre’s 275th birthday celebrations

by Handymag

To celebrate its 275th birthday, York Theatre Royal is throwing open its doors for a weekend of family fun and frivolity in August.

From Friday 9 to Sunday 11 August the theatre will be packed with tours, exhibitions, taster sessions and feasts – and the promise that “it’s going to be one big party”.

There will be free 30-minute guided tours of the theatre when people can enter the hidden backstage world, discover the secrets of the Grade II listed building and find out lots, lots more about its fascinating history.

The building, which dates back to the 18th century, is a patchwork quilt of many periods – originally built over a 12th century hospital with changes over the years giving the theatre a Georgian interior, Victorian façade, 1960s poured concrete addition and now the recent transformation of the Grade II listed Theatre Royal into a building fit to serve a 21st century audience with improved access and flexibility.

The tours are free and can be booked in advance. Booking is advisable.

Also planned is a ghostly look behind the scenes in a Digital Ghost Hunt. Renowned actor and ghost geek Julian Fitzmaurice will lead an expedition exploring the spooky goings-on which have happened at the theatre over the centuries. Will the Grey Lady and the Dandy materialise as ghost-hunters stalk the creepy corridors?

Tickets £5 for over 16s and free for under 16s (suitable for 8+). Booking is advisable.

More stories will be told in the De Grey Rooms which will be transformed for the birthday weekend and house a costume exhibition showcasing the amazing array of outfits from the Costume Department.

Pauline and Claire from Costume Hire will be on hand to tell the stories behind the costumes. It offers a rare chance to see clothing and accessories from the theatre’s story of precious items, plus hand-drawn designs from past productions as well as vintage and antique items.

This free exhibition will be open from 11 am to 4 pm Saturday 10 and Sunday 11 August.

Nobody will go hungry during the 275th birthday celebrations. A BBQ on the patio will offer lamb and chicken shawarma as well as grilled halloumi. All served with pittas, tabbouleh, salad, Greek salad, tzatziki and hummus. The café will be selling a whole range of tasty sweet treats.

Birthday BBQ will be open Saturday 10 August, 11am-6.30pm and Sunday 11 August, 11am-4pm.
York Theatre Royal Choir will be offering a free taster session. From vocal warm-ups to learning a piece of music for use in a theatre production, you will see what make the choir unique among York choirs.
Session timings are Saturday 10 August, 11.30am-12.15pm, then 2.45-3.30pm. Then on Sunday 11 August, 1-1.45pm.

The theatre’s volunteer Photography Group will take over the Foyer screens with their favourite photographs taken of the theatre, everything from behind-the-scenes shots to fabulous production photographs.

The Friends of York Theatre Royal will be hosting a cake and crafts sale during the birthday weekend celebrations.

For full details of the 275th birthday weekend celebrations visit Tickets can be booked by phone 01904 623568, online at or in person at the theatre in St Leonard’s Place.

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