Last summer me and Mum were lucky enough to spend a day in Richmond, North Yorkshire, with our lovely friends from Red Bus Days Out. While we were there, we visited the castle, where me and Mum ran barefoot across the grass. 43. RICHMOND AND ITS CASTLE
We also had a guided tour of the Georgian Theatre Royal and enjoyed it so much that, along with one of our lovely friends, we decided we’d go back there around Christmas time to see the pantomime, which was going to be Aladdin. 44. RICHMOND’S GEORGIAN THEATRE ROYAL AND OLD RAILWAY STATION
Although both Richmond and the village where we live are in North Yorkshire, however, they are at least 60 miles apart and so Mum said we’d make it into a mini-holiday and stay in Richmond overnight. She also said that we’d do the journey by train and bus and then she wouldn’t have to worry about driving if the weather turned bad.
Using her magical computer, she booked tickets for the evening performance of Aladdin on January 3rd, then booked rooms at The Black Lion in Richmond…
…and train tickets to take us from our nearest railway station at Keighley to Darlington, from where we could catch a bus to Richmond. She even decided to pick the train tickets up from the machine on the station on the day we were travelling – and, to my amazement, she got it right first time and didn’t have to say any naughty words that might have made me blush.
We arrived in Richmond market place in the middle of the afternoon and decided to go to the theatre first and collect our tickets. When we got there, Mum introduced me to the two people in the box office and gave them my card. They’d never met me before, but they knew about me from my post about our tour of the theatre earlier in the year and were really pleased to see me. They also promised that I’d be mentioned in the show that evening which made me feel like a Very Important Little Bear… From the theatre we went to The Black Lion, the back door of which was only a few yards from the theatre, though the front door was on a different street altogether.
We booked in at the bar and were made to feel really welcome. Mum introduced me to the staff and also gave them my card and then we were shown to our rooms. Mum’s friend had a lovely room with a very comfy-looking king-size bed, but ours was even better. Not only did we have a nice view onto a pretty shopping street, but also we had a four-poster super-king-size bed, rather like one of the heroines of Mum’s Yorkshire Romances might have slept in.
After we’d got settled in and made ourselves a cup of tea, we decided to go for a little walk, this time setting off from the front door of The Black Lion which is in Finkle Street. It was only a few yards from there to the market place and, as it was dropping dusk, the Christmas lights had come on making it look a bit magical.
It was also a bit chilly and so we were glad to get back to the warmth of The Black Lion and start getting ready to go back to the theatre.
Before we did that, however, we needed to eat and so, as the menu at The Black Lion looked very tempting, we decided to eat there. Both Mum and her lovely friend decided to have a large glass of Pinot Grigio each. Then they ordered chicken in Bechamel sauce, topped with cheese, and served with chunky chips, salad and coleslaw, which was delicious, but left them with no room for pudding.
Then at last we were on our way to the theatre, where Mum bought a programme and told me we were being posh and sitting in a box. As the only boxes I knew about were cardboard ones, I didn’t think that sounded very posh at all. But Mum said it was like a little room overlooking the stage and had proper chairs for us to sit on, rather than benches as in the rest of the theatre. She also said that there’d be just the three of us in there and so I’d be able to sit on a little ledge and have a really good view of what was going on.
Because no one’s allowed to take photos in the theatre when there’s a show on, these are the only two photos that Mum could take…
But we had such a wonderful time – and the pantomime was brilliant!
This version of it had been written by Gary Bridgens, who also played the part of Aladdin’s mother, Widow Twankey. (This confused me, as I thought Widow Twankey was a woman, but Mum says that this role in a pantomime is always played by a man, dressed as a woman and known as The Dame. Mum also says that in many pantos the part of the hero, or Principal Boy – in this case Aladdin – is played by a girl, but to confuse me even further Aladdin at Richmond was played by a young man, Quinn Richards.)
For the next two hours we sat enthralled, watching the traditional mix of slapstick, singing, dancing, wonderfully over-the-top acting and plenty of audience participation. We sang and we shouted. We hissed and we booed. We clapped our hands and stamped our feet. But most fun of all was in Act Two when we got to pelt the villain Abanazar (played by Nick O’Connor) with hundreds of hand-knitted light-bulbs which had been made by volunteers over the autumn.
And Paul, the Front of House Manager who’d met me when we’d picked the tickets up, stayed true to his word and, at a break between scenes in Act One, Widow Twankey told the audience about me and I stood up and introduced myself.
I felt really important – and especially so as our box was right on the edge of the stage and Widow Twankey was able to come across another two times and talk to me.
All too soon, the show was over. With the help of the Genie (played by Alex Moran), Aladdin and Jazz (played by Emily Arnfield) were all set to live happily ever after. Widow Twankey’s financial problems were solved and the wicked Abanazar had got his come-uppance.
We made our way back to The Black Lion and, as we walked through to the bar, we got a real surprise as there was a man in a red coat standing next to a horse’s head on a pole. But I’ll tell you about that in my next post, when I’ll also tell you about how I got to fly on a Magic Carpet, just like Aladdin.
Follow my next blog: 69. ALADDIN, THE BLACK LION AND A HORSE’S HEAD – PART II