Following a tradition spanning many years, Newcastle Theatre Royal’s annual pantomime is wowing audiences once again, this time in the guise of the perennial favourite Cinderella.
It feels almost disingenuous to simply call this show a panto; this is a variety show of the highest order, worthy of a Royal Command performance a la London Palladium. Dancing, singing, comedy, magic, fabulous costumes and the most up to date light & sound show, it is very difficult to find ANYTHING missing that could enhance or improve this spectacular.
In Joe McElderry the North East, and Theatre Royal in particular have found a true panto superstar. When Joe first joined the ‘gang’ last year it was undoubtedly for his singing that most people would expect him to be on the bill – not so now as he has evolved very quickly into a brilliant stalwart to the madcap genius of Danny Adams. Joe has grasped the modern panto zeitgeist with both hands, he is genuinely funny, more than happy to be the target of some very good natured (if somewhat near the knuckle) ribbing and throws himself into each and every scene. Of course we know he can sing, but it is not until you see him blend this with dancing and acting that you can appreciate just how great a singer he is – almost what could be if Michael Bublé ever decided to wear sparkly tights.
Of course, the biggest draw for the annual bout of star-spangled silliness is Danny Adams and Clive Webb. This is their 17th Theatre Royal Panto and they manage each year to defy logic, belief and the universe to bring something funnier, more crazy and totally amazing, and once again blowing the lid off the previous years brilliance. It’s difficult to not simply repeat oneself when describing Danny; I have often likened him to Norman Wisdom, Lee Evans, Billy Pierce and Tommy Cooper, all rolled into one but that is not entirely fair, Danny is Danny and once again we are treated to 2 hours of his genius. That Clive hasn’t yet been bumped off by either his son’s mad antics, or the breath defying tongue twisters is both good luck and brilliant preparation; such perfection looks simply stupid but is testament to hundreds of hours of practise & planning and we all reap the benefits in tears of laughter. Their forays into the audience, the madcap stunts, the magic that seems to go wrong have the whole audience howling.
With Mick Potts as Dandini and Chris Hayward as the brilliant Baroness Volupta our set of usual suspects is complete; Mick’s deadpan delivery seldom breaks, tho it is always a fun game to try and spot when he so nearly laughs. As for Chris, he has well and truly thrown down the gauntlet to Madame Biggins at Darlington Hippodrome for the crown of best dame in the land, I know who my money will be on. Accompanying the Evil Stepmother are Vindicta (Kylie Ann Ford) and Manipulata (Christina Berriman Dawson) as the 2 stepsisters, both brilliantly wicked, very funny and great singers too.
Rounding off the credits are the beguiling Oonagh Cox as Cinders and Wayne Smith, making the step up from his stint as Dandini at Darlington, as Prince Charming. Again, we are blessed with fabulous performers who can sing and dance and act. Speaking of dancing, special mention to the Kings guards, dance troop extraordinaire, Flawless who add some ‘street’ cred along with joining in with Danny’s hilarious dance off.
In all, there are few things in life that you can rely on but Panto at Newcastle Theatre Royal never fails to live up to the expectation, the hope, the love you want to feel.
Like the coming together of old friends at Christmas time, this show feels like a family reunion – a Royal Family reunion.