Once upon a time (seven years ago actually) a man called Michael Harrison, changed the face of pantomime in the North East. Year on year, he smashed box office records and everyone came to recognise his Newcastle pantomime was the best in the land.........
In his first panto at the Theatre Royal, he introduced Danny Adams and Clive Webb to North East audiences and now along with Chris Hayward, their pantomimes are as much part of a North East Christmas as Fenwick’s window.
This year they appear in a new production of Sleeping Beauty, as usual written and directed by Harrison, who has taken the familiar story, given it a totally new twist, which brings out the best in his cast.
While the familiar story of Sleeping Beauty is at the heart of the show and there are special effects, such as a flying sports car, giant spider and lasers, at the heart lies comedy. Within the first five minutes we have flying fairies, pyrotechnics galore and several scene changes and that is before we have even seen Danny Adams as Muddles and Clive Webb as King Clive. There is no doubt Adams is at his best in this year’s panto and in true Harrison fashion, a twist in the story allows him to get the girl!
Chris Hayward, as Queen Rita, makes numerous spectacular costume changes and in one scene is literally a vision of silver and pink as he descends from high above the stage. His signature finale headdress is a glittering Greys Monument.
There is no doubting that this latest Theatre Royal pantomime will be the number one show in the Country once again, even though the others are yet to open.
It is obvious that Clive, Danny and Chris cannot only perform panto, they understand it. However, along with Harrison, they have all been born with a panto “X Factor” giving them an extra edge, putting them in a class of their own.
Next year they all do it again in Aladdin with ticket sales already breaking records there is another hit in the making, even though this year’s show has literally just opened.