FIVE STAR REVIEW: Dick Whittington, Newcastle's Theatre Royal until January 17

Picture by Keith Pattison
Picture by Keith Pattison

There was certainly no Fog on the Tyne last night as the skies cleared for a spectacular evening of true pantomime gold.

As I'd taken a peak behind the scenes last week at Newcastle's latest blockbuster pantomime Dick Whittington, you'd have thought it may have given away a few of the tricks which we might see on the stage. But this was certainly not the case!

Picture by Keith Pattison

Picture by Keith Pattison

Last night's glitzy glamorous pantomime was a major hit with everyone in the audience and with just under 90 more performances to go until it closes on January 17, you've certainly got some time to get some tickets - but be careful, they're going to sell out fast!

For those who don't know the storyline of Dick Whittington, that's not really important because all you really need to know is, this production takes you on a new adventure which is Geordie-centric and has some hilarious references to Northumberland, Newcastle and Sunderland.

Rats have plagued Newcastle under the instruction of the Rat King, (Whitley Bay's own Steve Arnott) and the Spirit of the Tyne, played by Charlie Hardwick (of Emmerdale fame), sends young Dick (Danny Adams) up to Newcastle (instead of London) to save the day and win his dream girl, Alice (Played by Jarrow's Alice Stokoe).

The story is laced with a fantastic original score, played by Theatre Royal's orchestra and works very well, particularly the part where we all 'larn't owasel' Geordie' with an extremely catchy tune performed by an on-point Hardwick.

Picture by Keith Pattison

Picture by Keith Pattison

One of the big things about this years panto is the interesting incorporation of 3D, visual and video effects. Most of this worked well and seemed to engage the younger members of the audience but for me, I don't think the 3D sequence really added anything massive to the show.

That aside, other visual effects were mind-blowingly fantastic, particularly the end of act 1. Not wanting to give anything away, this was one of the most visually enthralling theatrical experiences I've ever seen on this stage. The Twins FX company has really excelled itself this year, producing some extremely memorable moments for all to enjoy - even if a youngster sat next to me decided to hide underneath their chair!

But, in my opinion, no smoke or mirrors will overpower some truly brilliant performances. Danny Adams and Clive Webb return to Newcastle for their 11th year and show no signs of becoming boring. I remember going to see them when I was a young teenager and being left in a completely blown away by their performances. This year they've really kicked it up a notch and it showed how the pair are a real powerhouse double act.

Again, not wanting to give too much away, but the duo are the true masters of audience participation. The moment when a poor member of the audience called Lesley was brought up on stage to take part in a stunt will stay with me forever. I haven't laughed that much in a long time and I think that was the true beauty of this show.

Picture by Keith Pattison

Picture by Keith Pattison

For some reason this show feels like the premier of pantomimes, there's no tackiness, no temptation to slip into some awfully-bad panto habits and there's some real innovation and evolvement in this form of theatre from one of my - now - favourite producers, Michael Harrison.

It's five stars from me and if you head along to the Newcastle's Theatre Royal you'll see why. Closing the show, Adams thanked everyone for coming along to see the show and stressed how much of a family the whole ensemble was, which is why he kept coming back each year. I think the audience really felt the performer's sense of ownership and real pride for the production, and I suppose that is the true spirit of the pantomime at this festive season - consider me well and truly ready for Christmas now!

Tickets for this show start from £12 and are available from the Theatre Royal's website. There should also be a very slight warning that there are some bangs, flashes and the odd scary moment, but don't let that put you off!

Picture by Keith Pattison

Picture by Keith Pattison

Picture by Keith Pattison

Picture by Keith Pattison

Picture by Keith Pattison

Picture by Keith Pattison