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Berwick’s Pantomime Costume Drama


One of the spectacular glittering costumes worn by York Theatre Royal’s legendary pantomime Dame Berwick Kaler is the centrepiece of the Shaping the Body exhibition at York Castle Museum.

He wore the glitterball costume in the ‘walk-down’ finale of the 2018-19 pantomime The Grand Old Dame of York, his 40th and final production as York Theatre Royal’s Dame.

The costume has been donated to the museum to mark Berwick’s four decades as Dame.

Berwick, who is writing and co-directing the 2019-2020 pantomime Sleeping Beauty at York Theatre Royal, was on hand to see the costume being installed in the exhibition.

Dr M Faye Prior, Assistant Curator of Costume and Textiles at York Castle Museum said: “It’s very special to us to be able to collect such an important piece of York’s theatrical history. Not only is the costume spectacular to look at, but it celebrates a career that has touched the lives of generations of people in York and beyond.

“It helps grow and develop our collection of theatrical costume, as well as being the most exciting 21st century outfit we’ve collected so far.”

The glitterball costume is a highlight of the re-display of the Shaping the Body exhibition, which looks at fashion and changing body shape through the ages. It will join a Vivienne Westwood outfit donated to the museum from Vivienne Westwood Ltd following the success of A Personal Collection of Vivienne Westwood Shoes. This comprises of a jacket, top, skirt and shoes from the collection Tied to the Mast, from spring/summer 1998, and is a Vivienne Westwood Gold Label ensemble.

The new display will also showcase an East Yorkshire Militia uniform coat of 1762, a 1880s bustle gown fancy dress outfit, and a pair of theatrical shoes that belonged to Edith Craig, a theatre director, producer, costume designer and early pioneer of the women’s suffrage movement in England.