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Theatre Royal Panto to be beamed to hospitalised children

By • Northeast
In what is believed to be a UK first, all poorly children in hospitals across the North East will get the chance to see Newcastle Theatre Royal's pantomime Aladdin from the comfort of their bedsides. On Saturday 15 December, the full show will be screened for free to all 8,500 hospital bed TV screens in the region, giving hundreds of sick children the chance to see a show that would otherwise not have been a possibility for them.

The project has been two years in the planning and is a unique collaboration between NHS North East, Newcastle Theatre Royal and Hospedia, the region's hospital broadcast network.

It is the brain-child of Theatre Royal Trustee Howard Tait (chief executive of Newcastle advertising agency Martin Tait Redheads), and everyone working on the project is giving their services for free - including Hospedia, Dene Films, the pantomime cast and crew and all hospitals across the north east.

All children will have the opportunity to watch the show from their hospital beds at 2pm on 15 December, with repeat screenings at 4pm and 6pm.

Commenting on the exciting collaboration, Howard Tait said: "There's no doubt that the Theatre Royal Panto is the region's most popular Christmas show - kids love it, and when Danny Adams comes on stage - well, he brings the house down! We are often able to bring a small number of more mobile kids to the show, and seeing the children's faces light up just made me wonder how we could extend this magic to many more children unable to leave their beds. As far as we are aware this has never been done before, anywhere in the world. It's been a long time in the planning and with 17 different stakeholders involved, no easy feat! I'm so pleased we got there in the end. For many this will be a dream come true."

Philip Bernays, Chief Executive of Newcastle Theatre Royal, said: "To be able to screen the show to so many hospitalised children is nothing short of remarkable - Howard has worked very hard on making this happen and we are delighted with what he has achieved. Our panto really is one of the best in the world, and we are extremely proud of it - it makes sense that the Theatre Royal should lead the way and be the first theatre to undertake a project like this."

Julie Marsh for NHS North East, said: "It is fantastic to have all our hospitals involved and to bring some traditional festive cheer right to the bedsides of so many children. Any time of year is difficult for children to be in hospital but it's great that we're able to give them something different, with a 'wow' factor, to enjoy with their families and the hospital staff. We are proud to have been able to support this ambitious project - oh yes we are!"

Anne Stewart, operations manager at Hospedia, added: "We are delighted to play our part in spreading some joy and happiness to patients in hospital at Christmas. Keeping patients happy while they are in hospital is our business."

Aladdin - The Magical Pantomime Adventure! is the Theatre Royal's most successful panto yet - already 80,000 tickets have been sold. West End producer, and one of the world's leading lights in pantomime, Michael Harrison has pulled all the stops out in terms of lavish design and production values - and the show features the most spectacular flying carpet that audiences will ever have seen. Multi award-winning pantomime legends Danny Adams and Clive Webb are back once again by overwhelming demand playing Aladdin and Mr Twankey respectively and are supported as always by the Dame Chris Hayward as The Empress of China.

When not managing his company, the biggest advertising agency in the north, the 'genie' behind the hospital project Howard Tait works tirelessly for theatrical causes and charity. He led the campaign to bring the late Pavarotti to Newcastle in 2000 (his only planned performance in the UK that year), a remarkable coup and a complete sell out which brought a massive boost to the region's cultural credibility. He is very active on the Theatre Royal board, and for a number of years has brought children from The Freeman Hospital in Newcastle to see the pantomime.

Aladdin - the Magical Pantomime Adventure! will be screened to all hospitals in the North East for free at 2pm on Saturday 15 December, with repeat showings at 4pm and 6pm. The show itself will run at the Theatre Royal until Saturday 19 January 2013, tickets are priced at £11 - £28 and can be purchased from the Theatre Royal Box Office on 08448 11 21 21 or select your own seat and book online


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