PANTO stars are hoping third time lucky at York Grand Opera as they prepare to stage The Adventures of Old Granny Goose this Christmas.

Former York Theater Royal Artists Berwick Culler, David Leonard, Martin Barras, Susie Cooper and AJ Powell were set to move across town to the GOH in 2020 before the theater’s closure.

Last year, Dick Turpin Rides Again went ahead as planned, but after the Omicron came out, audiences had to wear masks for the entire show, and some were unable to get into the theater.

Then Berwick and his running mate Martin got a little red line on their LFTs showing they had Covid and had to miss the final week of the run – although neither of them even felt sick.

“It was really quite amazing,” he said. “We’re used to going on in panto no matter what, even if you’ve got the flu, but with Covid we couldn’t get anywhere near that place even though we felt good.”

York Press: Susie Cooper and AJ Powell ready for a wild panto at the Grand OperaSusie Cooper and AJ Powell ready for a wild punt at the Grand Opera (Image: David Harrison)

He said last year’s wearing of the mask had its own humor in the audience when Berwick read a birthday wish for a boy and then asked: “Is your mum here?”.

“The boy pulled the mask off his mother, as if to check, and said: ‘Yes, she is!’

Martin said he’s looking forward to a pandemic-free event with the carefree, high-spirited crowd that filled the Cumberland Street Opera House, which only recently reopened after major renovations, including dressing rooms.

“It was perfectly renovated,” he said. “The auditorium looks great. They took all the seats and cleaned them.”

Martin said he became a panto after winning the role of Mick in the BBC Radio Four drama The Archers earlier this year.

“They said Mick was a young Jack, a womanizer and loved to be the center of every joke,” he said. “I said, ‘How am I going to play this? I’ll have to go back to theater school.”

York Press: David Leonard ready for mad panto at York Grand Opera Photo: David HarrisonDavid Leonard ready for a crazy panto at York Grand Opera Photo: David Harrison (Image: David Harrison)

Meanwhile, Berwick – the UK’s longest-serving pantomime star – who has starred in pantomime in York for more than 40 years, said: “I can’t wait to bring Me Babbies and the Bairns back to the Grand Opera. But remember – I have baseless delusion that I’m too young to play grandma! So get ready for the unexpected.”

A spokesperson for the Grand Opera House said: “Discover why Berwick and his team have been the real rock of family entertainment for decades with their hilariously anarchic approach to pantomime.

“It’s wonderfully crazy and really appeals to all ages. You may not remember the plot, but you will remember the laughter of the winter months.’