The creators and cast of this year’s Theatre Royal pantomime Dick Whittington have certainly done it again.
Produced and directed by Michael Harrison, who also co-wrote the production with Alan McHugh, have again done what they do best - come up with a groundbreaking and highly entertaining show that proved to be a huge hit with all ages in the audience.
This stylish, creative show was professional from top down and the energy on stage was felt throughout the auditorium.
There was a wonderful blend of high-octane energy, actrobatics, slapstick comedy, and a love story. It was all pulled together with remarkable audience participation that saw audience members getting wet, custard pied, dressed as Tellytubbies and even take part in an edge-of-your-seat knife-juggling stunt.
The region’s fastest selling festive pantomime stars father and son team Danny Adams and Clive Webb as Dick Whittington and Councillor Fitzfenwick, who showed their experience and the rapport they have built up with the audience to mark their 11th pantomime at the theatre.
It sees Dick travelling to Newcastle for fame and fortune, and stoke-up his love life, while battling the villainous King Rat and riddding the city of his army of pesky vermin.
Also making a most welcomed return was West End success story Chris Hayward, this time as Dame Rita Fitzfenwick, starring in his 9th consecutive panto and once again proving to be one of the best panto dames in the business with a special eye for glamour in glittering and sparkling costumes that are his own creation.
Soap star Charlie Hardwick, who played Val Pollard in Emmerdale, also made a return to her hometown theatre to play The Spirit of the Tyne and add to the array of regional gags that make the show special to people fcrom across the North East.
And Whitley Bay born and bred Steve Arnott played the villainous King Rat with aplomb and sturred up the whole crowd with choral booing and hissing everytime he took to the stage.
They were all backed up to perfection by love-interest Alice Stokoe, as Alice Fitzfenwick, Peter Peverley and Little Bobby the Cat, Phil Seaman who played Captain Birdseye and Sultan Vinegar and the wonderfully comedic Michael Potts as The Idiot.
One of the real standouts this year was the special effects, including a 15ft-high rat and a massive shark roaring out into the auditorium and even swallowing Dick Whittington at one point.
But the 3D effects were truely remarkable and added a new high-tech visionary experience to the show that will be talked about by everyone and will rival any cinematic delight.
After the interval the audience is recommended to pick up a pair of 3D glasses, which were free as long as you reeturned them afterwards, for a special part of the show that was a real standout.
It used state of the art technology and saw the audience jumping in their seats to dodge bombs and monsters that appeared right in front of your eyes and left the adrenaline coursing.
There was bagfulls of singing and dancing and a trampolining scene that had perfect comedy and choreographical timing that was another standout moment in the show.
By the end of the two-and-a-half hour performance the audience was unified in their appreciation for what has become a must of the festive period for 90,000 people caross the region who visit the theatre for the pantomime every year.
This year there will be 92 performancews until Sunday, January 17.
Tickets are available from £12.50, (save 50p per ticket by booking online). Tickets can be purchased from the Theatre Royal Box Office on 08448 11 21 21 (calls cost 7p per minute plus your phone company’s access charge) or select your own seat and book online at www.theatreroyal.co.uk.