York Theatre Royal’s team was out in full force yesterday – and full costume – to promote the opening of their box office to bookings for its new panto, Jack and The Beanstalk.

Berwick Kaler, the panto writer, director and Dame for the last 31 years at York Theatre Royal took to the streets on Monday, alongside fully costumed members of the theatre’s communications department.

They sold 3440 tickets face to face yesterday within 9 hours of the Box office opening, breaking last year’s record.

For prospective audience members who weren't on hand to witness York Theatre Royal's team in action, internet sales went online at 6pm last night and the phone bookings started at 9am today.

Though York Theatre Royal looks further ahead to Christmas, with the opening of tickets sales, it also recently announced its packed Summer season.

Opening the Summer season is the satirical musical Oh What A Lovely War by Northern Stage, coming to York at the beginning of April. It explores the many facets of life during World War One, with a host of musicians, dancers, singers and clowns.

There are more musical contributions in store when York Musical Theatre Company present the great family show The Wizard of Oz in May.

York Theatre Royal are making a welcome return to producing this Summer, with an exciting line up of new collaborations and shows. They are forging a new partnership with the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, in a production of Chekhov’s The Seagull from mid-April.

The theatre will also be co-producing with Pilot Theatre again in May with Catcher, a new play about the night before Mark Chapman shot John Lennon, by award-winning writer Richard Hurford.

Continuing their commitment to offering quality theatre for children, April also finds York Theatre Royal working on a new production with tutti frutti theatre company that is full of puppetry, based on Jill Murphy’s much loved children’s book, Whatever Next!.

The show is part of a brand new festival called Little Feet, which will bring the best of children’s theatre from the UK, France and Italy to York in June.

A variety of tastes are catered for in York Theatre Royal’s Summer season too, with shows like Marie: The Story of Marie Lloyd - telling the story of the first, great, female stand-up comedian, as well as performances from the Birmingham Royal Ballet, and the ever popular dinnerladies.

The grand finale of York’s summer season is The Wind in the Willows from 22 July to 21 August, by the same creative team that brought us the award-winning The Railway Children last year.

The adventures of Mole, Ratty, Badger and Toad will be played out on a new stage built inside the main house, and the entire theatre will be transformed to allow the audience to sit around the action. The café will turn into a giant woodland, complete with an indoor lawn.

York Theatre Royal has a website devoted to the production’s stars, at www.beyondthewildwood.com, where you can even sign up for Mole Mail.

For booking, and more information on York Theatre Royal’s summer shows you can visit their website at www.yorktheatreroyal.co.uk or call the Box Office on 01904 623568.

- Vicky Ellis