A former teacher and charity worker from the North East of England, I love people and places and like to try out new experiences wherever possible. Capturing that 'perfect pic' is all part of the pleasure. Access issues are a particular interest.
Published December 8th 2014
Fairytales with Riotous Good Humour and Stunning Stagecraft
Top NE Pantos for 2014/15
Snow White Pantomime - image from Theatre Royal
With bags of fun and hilarious hilarity, it's time for the Panto season once again. So if the long winter nights and the dull winter days are making you wish it was summer fear ye not … a gem of colour and plenty of sparkle is waiting in the wings.. Panto comes but once a year and is a much loved tradition in the Uk and the North East region is at its rib tickling best with this season's shows north and south of the River Tyne.
With Dizzy, Queasy, Dippy, Drippy, Dumpy, Lumpy and Dozy or whatever you call the Seven Dwarves these days? (Well Disney is just one variation on a theme – and I'll bet, like me, you can only ever name six). With Cinderella and Aladdin too, there's an array of home grown and nationwide talent poised to delight you at whichever pantomime you choose to see in the North East this 2014/15 season.
So without further ado we'll dive straight into my list of top North East pantomimes in and around Newcastle this year.
The Mill Volvo Tyne Theatre Newcastle 9th December 2014 - 8th January 2015
On Westgate Road, at a central location just minutes from mainline and Metro services at Central Station, The Tyne Theatre presents 'Cinderella'.
Cinderella poster - image from Tyne Theatre Newcastle
That classic tale of rags to riches from the pen of Charles Perault is given the Tyne Theatre treatment and introduces us once more to Ugly Sisters, (Sharon and Tracy) WSM (Wicked Step-Mother, Prince Charming, a magical coach and of course a Fairy Godmother.
Poor Cinders is the down-trodden heroine with a sweet and lovely nature but she has two ugly step-sister who are determined to woo the handsome prince and make sure he doesn't see Cinders first - otherwise they wouldn't be in with a chance, she's so beautiful. But their plans to keep Cinders in servitude are scuppered when the Prince holds a ball and everyone in the land is invited. Poor Cinderella doesn't own a ball gown (not even a pretty frock to her name) but she has a secret weapon on her side in the form of a Fairy Godmother and with a flick of her wand the tables are turned … and she shall go to the ball. Oh! Yes she shall.
The only problem is, she has to be home by Midnight, which is not all that easy for a girl out on the town sampling the nightlife of Newcastle these days. Wonder if she knows you can buy a pair of flat ballerina type pumps from a vending machine in case your high heel shoes are killing you and you need to get home at the end of the evening? It comes in handy when you lose your glass slipper.
With loads of fun and frivolity provided by Radio Newcastle's own Fairy Godmother Sue Sweeney and the lovelorn 'Buttons' played by genial Geordie comedian Brendan Healy there's sure to be a riot of fun and laughter for all the family.
Matinee and Evening performances Tickets £10/£12/£15 Booking Hotline - 0844 493 9999
The Sunderland Empire
12 December 2014 – 04 January 2015
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs - Image from Sunderland Empire
A spectacular family pantomime with stunning sets and musical numbers, the Sunderland Empire presents 'Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs'.
Originally from a collection of stories by the Brothers Grimm, comes the tale of a beautiful princess named Snow White, who faces the wrath of her step-mother the Queen when a magic mirror declares her the fairest in the land.
Comedy legend Su Pollard plays the Wicked Queen while Children's TV Balamory star Andrew Agnew provides madcap and mayhem as the story progresses.
Su Pollard - image from Nigel Havers Alliance.co.uk
Su first shot to fame in the 1980s as the hapless but lovable Peggy in the BBC's hit comedy 'Hi-de-Hi'. She played a member of the domestic staff at a 1950s holiday camp - but her only dream was to become a 'Yellow Coat' like all the other entertainers at the camp. Her effervescent stage personality has kept the British audiences smiling ever since.
But back to the story:
When Snow White escapes into the forest, she encounters seven little people and meets her Prince Charming, played by Eastenders heartthrob Matt Lapinskas. But hey! This is Panto after all and you can't skip to the fairytale ending without drama and suspense as well as bags of mirth and merriment along the way.
Comedy capers abound as Hi-de-hi! meets Hi-ho! The plot thickens and the audience are invited to jeer and call out each time the Wicked Queen makes an appearance.
With amazing costumes and set design, loads of audience participation and stunning musical numbers, this dazzling production is brought to you from the creators of previously packed house pantos Peter Pan and Cinderella.
Situated on High Street West, the Sunderland Empire Theatre is close to all major transport links.
You can book your tickets online with ATG or
Matinee £10.00 - £29.50
Evening performance - £11.90 - £32. 40
Tickets are subject to a £2.85 booking fee for non-members.
Box Office on – 01915661040 or for special assistance bookings call 01915661045
Durham Gala Theatre
27 November 2014 – 03 January 2015
Aladdin - image from Durham Gala Theatre
27 November 2014 – 03 January 2015
The Gala Theatre, Durham's production is guaranteed to please panto audiences as 'Aladdin' lets the Genie out of the bottle and flies in on his magic carpet to bring us a tale from The 'Arabian Nights'.
With the help of Widow Twanky and Wishee Washee, there's an 'Aladdin's Cave' of comedy gems and sparkling musical performances set to provide plenty of festive fun this year. Starring Chris Connell as the Pantomime Dame and Paul Hartley as hapless side-kick Wishee Washee, the show is sure to be one of the seasonal delights of the North East this Christmas and New Year.
Poor Aladdin lives over a laundry, where his poor widowed mother takes in washing to make ends meet. One day his evil uncle Abanazar (Neil Armstrong) dupes him into climbing down into a secret cave where he see riches beyond his wildest dreams but Abanazar is only interested in an old lamp. He finds himself locked in the cave and is saved when he accidently rubs the lamp and a Genie appears.
With powers to grant him anything he desires Aladdin soon becomes a rich man and marries the beautiful Princess Jasmine, however, evil uncle Abanazar is set on making trouble for Aladdin, his new wife and her father the Emporer.
Starring Matt McGoldrick as Aladdin and Christina Andrew as Princess Jasmine
The Gala Theatre is in Millennium Place, Durham City Centre. DH1 1WA. The theatre is close to bus stops and car parks and about 20 minutes walk from mainline train services.
Panto stalwarts Clive Webb and Danny Adams are still working their magic after 10 years at the Theatre Royal with this year's production of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, according to the Newcastle Evening Chronicle.
This year is the tenth anniversary Clive Webb and Danny Adams' association with the Theatre Royal Newcastle and it promises to be the 'biggest, best and most bonkers' panto you've ever seen.
When Snow White takes refuge from the evil Queen in the forest she meets the Seven Dwarfs and is offered a place of safety with them. But one day an old lady arrives and sells her a poison apple which causes the princess to fall into a death-like sleep. The Wicked Queen appears to have rid herself of her rival at last.
Emily Shaw plays Snow White -with fun and laughter ranging from corny one-liners to comedy aimed at the grown-ups provided by Clive Webb as 'Oddjob' and his almost-able sidekick 'Muddles' - played by Danny Adams and with Chris Hayward as the pantomime dame, the show boasts stunning sets and magical musical performances. The Theatre Royal panto is a marvelous show for all ages.
Please be aware Strobe Lighting is used in parts of the show.
The Theatre Royal is on Grey Street, Newcastle. Just minutes walk from Monument Metro.
Tickets - from £12 plus a booking fee of 95p - £1.90 on most tickets
Incidentally - when I went to school the plural for 'dwarf' was 'dwarves' - however, the term dwarfs was popularized by J.R.R.Tolkien in his tale 'The Hobbit', so who am I to argue with a literary genius?