A bad back forces Berwick to bail on The Railway Children opening night

Michael Lambourne steps in as The Old Gentleman in The Railway Children. Photograph: Anthony Robling / York Theatre Royal
31 Jul 2015 @ 7.02 pm
| News

Panto legend Berwick Kaler is out of the opening night of blockbuster show The Railway Children.

Berwick, who plays The Old Gentleman in the classic story, has hurt his back and so can’t take part in the first show on Friday night (July 31).

The part will temporarily be played by local actor Michael Lambourne who has stepped in at the last minute.

Berwick injured his back on Wednesday, and is waiting further advice from doctors. He was very keen to make the first night but director Damian Cruden suggested he stayed at home to recover – and to ensure Berwick’s condition is not further aggravated in what is a strenuous production.

Getting used to the venue

Berwick in full dame mode, when it was announced the panto was moving to the NRM. Photograph: Colin Richardson
Berwick in full dame mode, when it was announced the panto was moving to the NRM. Photograph: Colin Richardson

Of course Berwick is best known for starring as the dame in the York Theatre Royal pantomime every year, which he also writes and co-directs.

The theatre announced the panto would be moving to The Signal Box Theatre at the National Railway Museum back in May when a post-medieval hospital was found in the Theatre Royal auditorium during major development work.

This prompted Berwick to take the role of The Old Gentleman to allow him to get used to the venue as he began writing the panto for the brand-new space.

Damian Cruden said: 

Berwick desperately wants to be back as soon as he can be.

He was really looking forward to opening night and is very upset not to be with the rest of the company on this special night.

I’ve passed on his good luck messages and well wishes to the cast and crew.

Acclaimed replacement

York based actor Michael Lambourne has stepped into Berwick’s shoes while he recovers.

Michael recently won critical acclaim for his role as Weasel in York Theatre Royal’s 2014 summer show The Wind In The Willows.

This role will be his seventh for York Theatre Royal including roles in The Legend Of King Arthur and Two Planks And A Passion.