The BEST advert for live theatre, pantomime and the North East
The annual tradition of Pantomime was sadly missing last year so we've been 2 years without our fix, but if it's possible to turn the dial up to 12 on madcap humour, double the feel good factor and raise to the power 2 the fun and enjoyment then the Theatre Royal have managed it with aplomb.
This year's offering, Snow White and the Seven Dwarves from Crossroads Pantomimes and written, produced and directed by Michael Harrison should go down in history as possibly one of the greatest pantomimes of all times - packed to the gills with laughs (on all levels) stunning costumes, amazing singing and oodles of chaos, everyone was left in tears of joy, be they 4 or 84.
The stalwart characters of Snow White (Kirsty Ingram), Prince William (Wayne Smith), evil Queen Dragonella (Chris Hayward) and dame Nelly Nightnurse (Steve Arnott) are the perfect foundation upon which to build the panto - they are the dreamers of dreams and the tellers of tales and it is through them, ably assisted by the Magnificent Seven (Josh Bennet, Simeon Dyer, Scott English, Jamie John, Blake Isle, Andrew Martin and Fergus Rattigan) that the good versus evil fairy tale is delivered.
Adding in an extra depth is the Man in the Mirror (Joe McElderry) and the Spirit of Pantomime (Carole Stennett). Carole lifts the usual 'Fairy Godmother' type role embracing the whole of Panto Land and serving some timely comfort that what we have missed over the past 18 months is now back again. I will admit, this is my first time seeing Joe live and I was blown away by his amazing voice and stage presence - so at ease within the role, very happy to be the target of some jokes and able to go toe to toe with the evil Queen.
Of course, anyone who has been to a Theatre Royal panto over the past 16 years will know that the USP - the Unique Silliness Parts come from Danny Adams (Danny the Court Jester) and Clive Webb (Oddjob) - these 2 are panto perfection pas compare, undoubtedly the best in the country for madcap anarchy and rib-aching routines. Clive, an accomplished magician, writer and the brains behind the duo is the straight guy to Danny's Tasmanian Devil.
Danny, a cross between Lee Evans and Norman Wisdom, gets better every year which is saying something because he was brilliant when I 1st saw him 11 years ago - his timing, physical comedy, non-stop goofing and hilarious voices suggest an out of control performer but this couldn't be any farther from the truth - the dedication and devotion to his craft make him unparalleled in modern day comedy theatre. Whilst he shoots out jokes and quips in a seemingly random fashion he knows exactly where he wants them to land - daft and silly are pitched straight to the kids, risque and very near the knuckle go over their heads and smack into the adults, leaving many in tears of laughter while nervously glancing at their young guests and hoping they aren't asked to explain why it is so funny.
The 3rd wheel to the zany gang is Mick Potts, cruelly playing The Idiot - Mick is as much a part of the madness and ensures that both Danny & Clive have an extra stooge off which to bounce.
Packed with pyrotechnics, amazing lighting and some truly brilliant flying sequences (for which I will offer no spoilers) the whole production is a triumph and one everyone should feel mighty proud of.
If you can only choose one pantomime this season then I suggest, nay insist, this should be it - oh yes I do !