Categorized | Arts & Culture, Featured, Theatre

Win a Family Ticket for Pantomime at City Varieties Music Hall


Win a Family Ticket for Four (max 3 adults) to one of the following preview performances of Aladdin the Rock’n’Roll Panto

Fri 24 Nov, 7pm; Sat 25 Nov, 7pm;
 Sun 26 Nov, 7pm.

Just answer the question: What was the title of the first Rock’n’Roll Panto at City Varieties?

Email your answer (with NORTH LEEDS LIFE in the subject line), together with your name, phone number or email address to by noon on 17th November.


The winner will be picked at random from the correct answers. The decision will be final and no correspondence will be entered into.

Pantomimes at City Varieties date back at least to the early 1940s when Harry Joseph was proprietor. One famous tale exists of a woman giving birth during a performance of ‘Babes in the Wood’ in 1941… legend has it that the child was gifted free admission to the Varieties for Life.

Pantomimes fell from favour towards the end of the 1940s and it wasn’t until 1968, after Harry’s sons, Stanley and Michael had taken over, that they made a return, with Terry Cantor at the production helm. These often featured Terry’s son, Kenny Cantor, alongside other variety stars such as The Patton Brothers, Wendy King and the hugely popular clown Charlie Cairoli. Productions of ‘Cinderella’ during this period were famed for a coach pulled by real (but very small!) horses and ‘Snow White’ boasted ‘real dwarves’.

In the early 1980s, ownership of passed into the hands of Leeds City Council and General Manager Peter Sandeman was appointed. As well as reintroducing a stage version of ‘The Good Old Days’, he revived the family pantomime. Forming a partnership with writer-director Robin Davies (Catweazle, Shakespeare in Love), these hugely successful shows, ran for over 20 years and established the Leeds tradition of an anarchic ‘rock fight’ with sponges! After ‘Jack & the Beanstalk’ completed its run in January 2009, the venue closed its doors for a major restoration, primarily funded by Leeds City Council, The Heritage Lottery Fund and the Friends of City Varieties.

Following the £9m refurbishment, City Varieties Music Hall re-opened in the Autumn of 2011 and that December hosted ‘Aladdin’ the first of the Rock’n’Roll Pantos – a very different format from the previous style, using a talented troupe of actor-musicians who performed all the classic hit songs and music live on stage. The ‘rock fight’ was given a makeover to become a ‘boulder battle’ with giant inflatable bouncing balls creating bedlam around the auditorium.

Over the past few years, ‘Cinderella’, ‘Jack & the Beanstalk’, ‘Dick Whittington’, ‘Robin Hood’ and ‘Sleeping Beauty’ have all been given the Rock’n’Roll Panto treatment with increasing success and a whole new Leeds tradition has been born. This year the cycle begins again when the Varieties revisits ‘Aladdin’ – it’s time to start polishing those lamps!




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