WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
It’s not Christmas without a bit of panto magic. And nowhere does it quite like Newcastle’s Theatre Royal. Whether it’s a family tradition, a highlight on your winter calendar or just something that gets you in the festive mood, it’s a must and it has taken centre stage for festivities in the North East. It’s famed for its dazzling displays, sparkling costumes, giggle-worthy gags and most importantly, its local talent that has us bursting with pride year-in-year-out.
Peter Pan has flown in this year and alongside his fairy friend Tinker Bell, they’re sprinkling festive cheer and creating magical moments across the region from their temporary home on Grey Street. This Disney favourite is brought to life on stage with added sequins and silliness for good measure. Peter Pan, Tinker Bell, Smee and Mrs Smee set off on an adventure with Wendy, John and Michael as they journey to a faraway place, a place of eternal childhood – Neverland. After learning to fly high above the North East, being confronted by pirates and walking planks with Captain Hook, will the gang make it to the Christmas ball?
WHO’S IN IT?
Panto season is a family affair in all respects at the Theatre Royal. Each year, father-and-son duo Danny Adams and Clive Webb come together to inject the fun into the production. This year, Danny is ‘the boy who wouldn’t grow up’, Peter Pan, and Clive plays his ditzy companion, Smee. It’s their thirteenth year on the Theatre Royal stage for the festive season and once again, their cheeky chirps, silly stage presence and clever circus tricks keep up their reputation as the region’s panto legends. They’ve become a household name when it comes to Christmas in the North East and we can see why. Danny and Clive are joined by their panto pal, Chris Hayward (Mrs Smee), who celebrates eleven years of performing as one of the leading dames in pantomime. Chris is renowned for his amazing costumes and wigs, all of which he designs by himself. Chris reminds us what panto season is all about – glam garments, warm wit and classic one-liners. His cry of “Hello me bonny bairns” is responded to with “Hiya hinny” by over 90,000 Theatre Royal pantomime-goers each year and he’s back for another glittering season.
Whitley Bay-born and bread, Steve Arnott plays the baddie, Captain Hook – joined by sidekick Starkey (played by Peter Peverley). The lovely Laura Evans plays Tinker Bell and special mention goes to Michael Potts who stars as The Lost Idiot – a personal favourite who has us giggling through the whole show. Wayne Smith plays Neverland local Tiger Billy and Julie Cullen plays Wendy.
This year, we’re pleased to see a bit of circus fun thrown into the mix – with amazing acts from The Timbuktu Tumblers (as The Neverlanders) and Sascha Williams and Stephanie Nock (as The Drunken Pirates). Both acts bring that bit of watch-between-your-fingers viewing as they wow with their strength, tricks and stunts.
WHAT’S GOOD ABOUT IT?
What’s not to love about this sparkling show? Danny and Clive hold the show together and keep the crowd going with slapstick comedy sketches, circus tricks, panto traditions and marvellous musical numbers. Their enthusiasm and energy is infectious – little ones love the silliness, but grown-ups won’t leave disappointed either. The age-old jokes, cheeky one-liners and naughty panto innuendos will have you in stitches from start to finish.
Your imagination will run away with you this year. The special effects are second to none and with a giant crocodile and a flying, spinning scooter, you’re left thinking… what’s next? Everyone loves to see Chris Hayward looking as glitzy as ever on stage too, and it was great to see him in the fabulous role of Mrs Smee. Each year, he effortlessly blends into his new role with so much ease and believability.
The production itself is the best we’ve seen in the wonderful world of panto. The set is big, bright and bold and depicts Neverland in a way in which we can all relate from our childhood. The stage, in all its glittering, pirate-themed wonderfulness, wouldn’t look out of place in a Broadway musical and the dance and stunt troupes were on top form. The grand finale celebration had whoops, claps, wheys and cheers from all corners of the room – proof that the Theatre Royal and this much-loved, local cast have delivered once again, kickstarting the festive celebrations in the North East.
WHO SHOULD SEE IT?
This is a show for all ages – with groups of youngsters, family outings and work parties all rounding up to experience the magic of the panto. It’s great for the kids and grandkids, but with plenty of cheeky jokes to make the grown ups chuckle!
WHEN IS IT ON?
Showing now, until 21 January 2018. Book your tickets!