Panto fills up theatre

Royalty Theatre Panto 2011, Sinbad the Sailor.'Left to right; Gordon Phillipson as the Dame, Jake O'Halloran as Marco, Scott Henderson as Kaliban and Dan Page as Omar.
Royalty Theatre Panto 2011, Sinbad the Sailor.'Left to right; Gordon Phillipson as the Dame, Jake O'Halloran as Marco, Scott Henderson as Kaliban and Dan Page as Omar.
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A THEATRE that was once under threat is celebrating a panto box-office smash.

The Royalty Theatre’s production of Sinbad the Sailor has proved an almighty hit, with more than 2,400 tickets being sold to Wearsiders clamouring to enjoy a traditional helping of Christmas.

Andy Barella, technical manager and director, said: “The show was a real success this year.

“Audiences were much larger and I think that was because what we tried to do was go for a more traditional panto.”

Theatre bosses reported a surge in tickets being snapped up to see the panto, which has finished after a 10-day run, with many nights selling out.

“Everyone seemed to thoroughly enjoy it,” Andy said.

“We had a big ensemble of old Royalty Theatre actors who have done many pantos before and a lot of younger actors so there was a good mix.

“I think the younger ones got a bit of a shock at first but adapted to it very well and put on a great performance.”

The 86-year-old theatre has gone from strength to strength since the Echo revealed fears nearly two years ago that the curtain may come down for good.

Audience figures had plummeted and its 2009 panto of Old King Cole failed to hit 60 per cent audience levels.

Andy added: “We had a lot of Scout groups and church groups who have supported us for many years and they said they loved the fact that it was a traditional panto.”

The Sunderland Empire theatre is not staging a panto this year and is instead hosting Legally Blonde the Musical.

The Royalty is hoping to take its success into the new year.

Its first show of 2012 carries on the festive theme with Flint Street Nativity.

The comedy follows a class of seven-year-olds who are about to perform their nativity play.

The show runs from January 23 to 28. Tickets cost £7.50, concessions £6.50.

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