In the run up to Christmas there are certain things we do as Brits that just stick every year and going to see a family Pantomime is one of them. Yes, I appreciate that this is not the type of review you expect to see on here but stick with it because this one’s a good one. Now, it might surprise you to know that this black heart was a late convert to the Christmas Panto game, my youngest sisters Kendall and Kylie wax lyrical about panto every year and it was only around four years ago that I started to take Plankton along to the annual showcase at The Gala Theatre in Durham.
It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that panto is childish, or it’s just an extended play for kids laced with cliched innuendo. Well it’s way more than a kids play and Voyeurs, I gotta tell you, I’m a BIG fan. Each year Plankton and I pick our favourite Christmas jumpers and head out for two hours of glorious pre-Christmas fun at the theatre and he talks about it for weeks after making me feel like it was worth every penny. This year however, we were invited to our first panto press night as a family (yes, that means Bo too) at the Tyne Theatre, the oldest working Victorian theatre in the country.
Obviously we arrived just as the curtain was rising in true Tenenbaum style and we took our seats up in the dress circle (at least I think that’s what it’s called). From the very beginning Snow White & the Seven Dwarfs is a real Geordie knees up, with a cast made up of as many Geordies as possible and a script filled with Geordie jokes, the two hour show flies by and leaves you feeling content. Newcastle’s own Geordie princess Michelle Heaton (Liberty X) plays a deliciously wicked queen and her stage time is enjoyable as she clearly relishes playing the role. She even busts out Liberty X’s biggest hit on stage which went down a treat with the crowd and had Plankton singing it at home for days after – although he did have a huge crush and was convinced she was Nicole Scherzinger.
Snow White is played by Geordie/Irish actress Robin McEnaney who is perfect for the role, cute and smiley, this little beauty belts out some of the biggest songs in the show in her quest to find Prince Charming played by musical theatre boyband Collabro’s Matt Pagan. The panto is a ride from start to finish, it’s packed with jokes that will have you giggling along with the kids, we chatted to Charlie Richmond who plays Muddles after the show and he told us “we try to keep the innuendo to a minimum as panto is often a child’s first visit to the theatre and we want to keep them coming back.”
Talking of Muddles, he’s the glue that holds the show together. Not afraid to improvise when things don’t go to plan, he’s a Geordie comic who brings local laughs to the show. Partnered with Impressionist and Britain’s Got Talent finalist Danny Posthill as Dame Dotty Donut, the pair put their skills to great use throughout the show. I’m pretty sure the fun antics of the titular Dwarfs were planned to steal your heart but for me, these two are the reason to go watch the show, they’ll have yo in hysterics, even Bo was laughing out loud at their antics.
Before the big final scene, and to allow for set and costume changes backstage, the Tyne Theatre panto does as all pantos do and picks out a couple of kids to join Muddles on stage for some hilarious unscripted banter and Plankton was lucky enough to be selected. My heart was in my mouth and he had a mini fear meltdown backstage but he did very well and said nothing embarrassing whilst up there. Phew. It might not sound like much but being autistic it’s a big deal for him to be able to walk up on stage in front of a huge audience and hold his composure.
So, if you’re yet to book a panto, or just fancy something to do in the run up to Christmas to get you feeling extra festive then give Snow White & the Seven Dwarfs a try, I’m pretty sure you won’t be disappointed! Two hours of fun, with a twenty minute interval to stock up on drinks and ice cream which you’re actually allowed to take into the auditorium? What could be better than that over the festive period?! Hurry though, it’s only on until the end of December…