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The Geordie Family Panto
Newcastle Tyne Theatre & Opera House
Until Wednesday 30th December 2015
In a crowded market place, how do you offer a panto with a unique selling point? Tyne Theatre’s production feels authentically Geordie. The local accents are allowed to ring around the stage. The end product is strongly proud of the region and doesn’t resort to much of the “the people in the next village are idiots” mentality… Apart from football jokes, but that is as much a part of the region as jokes about shopping in Fenwicks.
Opening the show in Peking is the delightful Jayne Mackenzie, as Aladdin, singing the Boy Meets Girl hit “Waiting For A Star To Fall”. It was the first of a number of songs that she skilfully tackled.
Apart from the great songs, the other feature of this production is the relentless volley of jokes. First up with the funny lines are Lewis Denny and Gary Walsh as the dim Constable Pong and slightly brighter Sergeant Ping. It wasn’t long before they too broke out into song. Mark Ronson’s hit “Uptown Funk” is this year’s hit for pantos as they nearly all cover it. Lewis and Gary gave a great tongue in cheek rendition. The dancers, Sherrie McKale, Alistair Walker, Laura Williams and Daniel Constanzo, along with a group of cracking youngster added a vibrancy, with their choreography, whenever they were on stage.
The huge role of script writer, director and panto dame is in the very capable hands of Maxie Peters. As Widow Twankey he is able to control the early proceedings of the show. The jokes fly across the stage in rapid fire. Whilst all of the classic panto elements are present in the show, at least there are some different jokes in this show. It was great to hear the historic theatre filled with laughter.
The biggest laughs of the nights were reserved for Charlie Richmond as Aladdin’s brother, Wishee Washee. He had a fantastic ability to connect with both the adults and the younger members of the audience. Whilst many pantos do the 12 Days of Christmas, Charlie helped make the Tyne Theatre’s version the very best. There was no stopping the music to find a missing item here – the pace was relentless which helped add to the intensity of the routine.
Every panto needs a baddie and Kevin O’Keefe filled the role without being too nasty. Sarah Badger and Emily Swan were both glamorous as the Genie of the Ring and Princess Jasmine.
Given her reputation for singing, it was a surprise that Lorraine Crosby didn’t have more numbers. After a rousing rendition of Eurythmics “Sisters Are Doing It For Themselves” Lorraine was not given much to sing until the grand finale with a fabulous Abba medley. Her role as the Empress of China shows that she can act too.
With its live band playing a number of popular songs, under musical director Michael Watson, family friendly jokes and sharp sense of Geordie humour, this is a classic panto. It feels local without feeling alienating. It is a very enjoyable show for all of the family.
This review was written by Stephen Oliver for the North East Theatre Guide from Jowheretogo PR (www.jowheretogo.com). Follow Jo on twitter @jowheretogo, Stephen @panic_c_button or like Jowheretogo on Facebook www.facebook.com/Jowheretogo
Read the original North East Theatre Guide preview: http://nomorepanicbutton.blogspot.co.uk/2015/12/preview-aladdin-at-newcastle-tyne.html
The Tyne Theatre & Opera House Box Office is open 10am-3:30pm Monday to Friday and event days
Booking and Information Line: 0844 2491 000 (10am – 6pm Monday to Friday)
Tickets are now available from www.tynetheatreandoperahouse.uk