Joe McElderry and Chris Hayward on Bringing Pinocchio to Life at Newcastle Theatre Royal
Pinocchio, a brand-new production created especially for Newcastle Theatre Royal by Crossroads Pantomimes, opened this week!
Pinocchio also sees audience favourites Mick Potts, Wayne Smith, Kylie Ann Ford and Christina Berriman Dawson return, alongside West End performer, Amelia Walker, who makes her Newcastle Theatre Royal panto debut.
We spoke to legendary panto dame Chris Hayward, starring as Dame Rita, and North East singer-songwriter Joe McElderry who makes a triumphant return to panto, this year as Jiminy Cricket, to find out more about bringing the classic tale to life...
How does it feel to be back in Newcastle performing on the Theatre Royal stage?
Chris Hayward: It’s the best thing ever! I love performing at the Theatre Royal.
Joe McElderry: It’s wonderful! The theatre is such a magical place and to be back with a brand-new production like Pinocchio is so exciting!
Have the shows grown and changed much over the years?
JM: This is my third year performing here and each year the pantomime gets bigger and better! It really feels like the rapport we all have on and off the stage just grows each year and there is a brilliant chemistry between us all.
CH: I agree. We have so much fun, and the shows themselves are certainly much bigger and more lavish than years ago too.
Is it ever challenging to bring the script to life?
JM: It’s always so fun bringing the scripts to life. In the rehearsal room we ad-lib and try different ways of doing things or adding parts and taking things out – but that happens during the run of shows too!
CH: Sometimes something will happen, and the audience loves it, so it stays in the show – it has a life of its own.
Can you tell us any secrets, what can audiences expect this year?
CH: You’ll get no spoilers out of us!
The costumes and set are fabulous, does it take a long time to get into costume?
JM: I am well practiced at getting into costume now, so I can get ready for the show in about 10 minutes, but normally I like to have around 20 minutes to make sure I’m not rushing.
CH: The quickest change during the show is about 45 seconds. I’ve got the best dresser, Alison, who helps me become Dame Rita.
Who do you think will enjoy watching Pinocchio? Why should people come and see the show?
JM: I think obviously the story is a brilliant tale; but there is comedy, incredible music and special effects too, there really is something for everyone.
CH: Pantomime is usually the very first thing a child goes to the theatre to see but everyone will enjoy it. It’s a very funny show and a fantastic feel-good night-out, live entertainment is the best!
What are you most looking forward to as the show continues its run?
CH: I’m looking forward to seeing everyone’s reactions to the show and making new friends in the cast, this time of year is the best time.
JM: I love seeing families in the audience having the time of their lives; it really is a magical theatre, especially when it’s full and everyone is having an amazing festive time.
Full of fun, laughter and surprises, Newcastle Theatre Royal pantomimes are widely thought to be amongst the best in the country. Spectacular choreography, glittering sets, breathtaking special effects and a wonderful musical score form the backdrop to a tale full of adventure and hilarious slapstick. With brand-new sets and costumes, this is sure to be their best panto yet!