WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
Nowhere quite does Christmas panto like Newcastle’s Theatre Royal. Its spellbinding productions are legendary, famed for laugh-out-loud comedy, sparkling local talent and stunning sets and special effects. They have a special place in the hearts of thousands of North East families (ours included) and each year sprinkle the city with a little Christmas magic and plenty of festive chuckle. This festive season, audiences are invited to the most spectacular ball of them all – Cinderella. And boy, do the cast come together in their sequins and silliness to bring the Disney classic to life. It’s a truly magical tale, packed with pumpkins, spells and glass shoes a-plenty that sees Cinderella transported to the Prince’s Ball with the help of lovable Buttons, The Fairy Godmother, a flying horse-driven carriage and much much more. Because what’s Christmas without airborne animals, fake snow and 3D glasses?
WHO’S IN IT?
This year, dynamic duo and father-and-son team, Danny Adams (Buttons) and Clive Webb (Baron Hardup), take to stage for their 12th consecutive year, delivering, once again, oodles of side-splitting humour, clever circus tricks and naughtiness – the very things that have earned them their reputation as the region’s panto legends. There was something special about seeing these top performers return to the stage, ready for another glittering season, to deafening cheers from all ages and little kids on their feet. They’re the the people North East panto-goers want. And we hope it stays that way.
Special mention, too, goes to Chris Hayward (The Fairy Godmother), who celebrates a decade of performing at the iconic Newcastle venue. Widely regarded as one of the leading dames in panto world (he’s also Theatre Royal’s longest-serving), Chris is a total asset to the production, with his oh-so-glamorous costumes and wigs (all designed by himself, don’t you know?), warm wit and classic line, ‘hiya bonny bairns!’, that all the kids love.
Whitley Bay lad, Steve Arnott, and Northern Stage star, Peter Peverley, join forces as Cinderella’s Ugly Sisters, Verruca and Hernia, and Laura Evans and Will Richardson step in the shoes of Cinders and Prince Charming. Two newcomers, armed with fab theatre-worthy singing voices and good looks, that took to their roles with real gusto – and held up well against Buttons’ cheeky, line-fluffing patter.
WHAT’S GOOD ABOUT IT?
What’s not good about it? Unsurprisingly, Adams and Webb steal the show – they’re total showman from start to finish, cramming so much in to one show, from slapstick foam fights and impressive magic tricks, to exploding pianos and songs with a talking bear. Their energy is infectious and we couldn’t help but jump to our feet with all the kids in times of hilarity and wonder. Little ones will love it, but grown-ups won’t leave disappointed either. The age-old jokes, one-liners and naughty panto innuendo will have your belly aching, whether you care to admit it or not.
We’ve always had a real affection for Hayward, too, and it was great to see him back on stage looking as fabulous as ever and transforming into the role with so much ease and believability. He carried the audience throughout and had everyone on his side – especially when faced with Cinders’ ugly sisters and their boo and hiss-inducing ways.
Production-wise, it’s probably one of the most good-looking pantomimes Theatre Royal has unleashed. The grand sets, in all their glittering pink and purple wonderfulness, wouldn’t look out of place in a West End musical and the dance troupes were really on top form. Nothing cheesy or overly choreographed – just great talent.
We loved the costumes, too – especially when the dancers transformed into all-singing-all-dancing pumpkins with legs – and the amazing special effects in the second half really got everyone up off their seats, when everyone dug out their pair of 3D glasses and screamed their way through The Fairy Godmother’s woodland journey through flying beasts and nasties.
By the time it came to an end, there wasn’t a single person sitting – proof that, once again, Theatre Royal and this stellar cast have certainly delivered.
WHO SHOULD SEE IT?
It’s a show for all ages – we saw pre-teens, young’uns in their twenties and people in their 70’s. Take your kids, nephews and nieces, grandkids and little sisters and brothers and allow yourself to be swept away in good old panto tradition and splendour.
WHEN IS IT ON?
Showing now, until January 15, 2017. Book those tickets!