The weather has turned cold, streets are aglow with endless streams of fairy lights and everywhere you look shoppers are rushing around like busy bees trying to scout out the best bargains – it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. For many families the festive season starts with the annual trip to the Theatre Royal pantomime and quite rightly so. There’s something about father and son duo Clive Webb and Danny Adams rushing around with cheap gags and custard pies that reeks of Christmas.
Unbelievably Clive and Danny are returning to the Theatre Royal this year for their 12th consecutive pantomime – yes, really. Alongside Producer and Director Michael Harrison and the rest of the Qdos Entertainment team, we’ve seen these lovable clowns turn their hand to Snow White, Dick Whittington, Jack and the Beanstalk and just about every other fairy tale you can think of, but this year they’re tackling the most iconic of them all – Cinderella. Cue ugly sisters, pumpkins and plenty of sparkly dresses...
Wallsend-born Director Michael Harrison and his team lovingly transpose each of their pantos to our beloved North East and Cinderella is no exception. The show kick starts with a few rousing verses of ‘Newcastle – the fairest city of them all’ and is peppered with references to the Bigg Market and treacherous Sunderland throughout. When the ugly sisters go on a hunt to find an eligible bachelor dressed up to the nines in skimpy clothing (sans coat) yodeling ‘Why aye, tonight’s the night’, we know we’re home.
The pantomime follows the typical plot of Cinderella: girl meets handsome prince, girl goes to ball, girl loses glass slipper, girl is reunited with glass slipper, girl marries prince and they live happily ever after. So far so good. But what makes the Theatre Royal pantomime stand out from the rest is the hilarious episodes that intersperse the story – and this is when Clive and Danny really come into their own.
From mishaps with a grand piano and slapstick falls to a Freddie Mercury tribute and magic display, the father and son duo captivated audiences young and old. After the initial excitement of a fairy wand and a bag of Jelly Babies, the young girl next to me quickly grew tired and disinterested in the pantomime, but one quick verse of Frozen’s Let It Go and Danny’s trademark laugh and she was back in the game.
A highlight of every panto is the infamous water scene when Clive and Danny (and now The Village Idiot, played by Danny’s brother Michael Potts) begin throwing around buckets of water on a carefully protected stage and the front row of the audience reach for their anoraks in anticipation of the inevitable water pistols. We’ve seen this done in many different ways over the years, so this year we got a refreshing change – wallpaper paste. With bowls, buckets, even wheelbarrows of the stuff, the team set about redecorating the theatre with plenty of mischief and mayhem. Trust me, it’s comedy gold.
After a flying horse and carriage, an animatronic teddy bear, glittery snowfall over the auditorium and a 3D walk through a forest with plenty of creepy critters and screams from the audience, the curtain came down on another fantastic offering from the Theatre Royal, and everyone ventured back out into the cold with smiles on their faces and a healthy glow in their cheeks. I defy even the most bitter of Scrooges to see Cinderella and not burst with Christmas spirit. The countdown is on.
See Cinderella at Theatre Royal, Newcastle until Sunday 15 January. For more information or to book tickets visit www.theatreroyal.co.uk