JARROW lad Maxie Peters writes, directs and tickles our chuckle muscles in a pantomime that has become a North East tradition since its formation in 1995.
It may not be able to boast the megabucks of its rivals, but what you get is a top-notch, top-professional show that provides laughter throughout; with a full house and children outnumbering adults by at least 10 to 1 it reflects the traditional appeal of a story told in a straightforward but exciting way.
The tale of Cinderella is about Baron Hardup (Kevin O’Keefe) returning from a foreign cruise with a new wife (who we never see) and a couple of new ugly step daughters, Shaz (Peters) and Trace (Glen Joseph).
As you’d expect from this outrageous duo the gags are constant and they provide chuckles aplenty. Their bedroom scene where they see ghosts in the “waaaal” had the kids standing up, screaming and pointing; a joy to behold.
Cinderella, played by Emily Swan, who also choreographs the show, is treated badly by Shaz and Trace who try everything to keep her away from Prince Charming (Christina Dawson), but love conquers all and, helped by his manservant Dandini (Sarah Badger), the Prince finds Cinderella.
While the ugly sisters get up to some dastardly tricks, Cinders has her Fairy Godmother (Sue Sweeney) to rely on, but more importantly her best friend Buttons (Charlie Richmond).
Richmond is given a free rein to be the kids’ silly big brother and over the years he has blossomed into a cracking panto performer.
His appearance on stage provides instant recognition and it feels as though the young audience members become members of the ensemble.
In addition to a top-notch cast, the other important ingredients for a worthy pantomime include dancers professionally choreographed, rather than well intended amateurs, a live band (the number of songs is spot on and never smothers the storyline), quality sets and beautiful costumes. All of these are on show in abundance here.
2015 marks the 20th anniversary of Newcastle Panto. To top Cinderella, Aladdin next year is going to have to be something extra special.
Cinderella runs until Tuesday, December 30. To book tickets, click here.