Theatre Royal, Newcastle upon Tyne

The Theatre Royal 175th Birthday celebrations came to a climax yesterday, as while outside the Birthday Blaze was still in full swing, inside a packed Theatre Royal audience enjoyed the one off Gala.

Produced and Directed by North East born, Michael Harrison (who each year writes, directs and produces the record breaking pantomimes at the Theatre Royal) the Gala took the format of a slick variety show.

The hosts for the evening were Tim Healy and Denise Welch, who were assisted by Christopher Biggins (who recalled it was thirty years since he appeared at the venue as Dame in Mother Goose). Our own Theatre Royal panto stars, Clive Webb and Danny Adams, needed no introduction as their mad cap comedy and mayhem closed the first half. Theatre Royal panto Dame, Chris Hayward, opened the second act, in toe tapping fashion, with more than a nod towards the legendary Danny la Rue.

The show contained the right mix of singing,( Shona White, Daniel Koek, Steve Arnott and opera star Graeme Danby), dance from Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake and the latest star of the West End hit Billy Elliott, Adam Vesperman. Allan Stewart revived his portrayal as Jolson, holding the audience in the palm of his hand throughout. While ventriloquist, Paul Zerdin, was outstanding as always, with comedy duo The Krankies headlining.

The cast and audience closed the show singing Happy Birthday and joining Graeme Danby in the “Blaydon Races”, while Chris Hayward took care of the birthday cake in the shape of the Theatre Royal.

The Theatre Royal orchestra was placed on stage allowing enough room for the entertainers in front and the whole presentation had a classy, feel good factor.