Christmas in Newcastle: Cinderella panto starring Danny Adams and Joe McElderry at Newcastle Theatre Royal brings festive magic to city

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We can all agree that December 1 is the right time to embrace the festive season.

Full disclosure – I’ve already been to a Christmas market, enjoyed an obligatory mulled wine and tucked into the first of many ice-topped mince pies (the most superior of all sweet mince pies).

So when the time came to visit Newcastle’s Theatre Royal to watch this year’s pantomime – Cinderella, starring Danny Adams, Joe McElderry, Clive Webb, Chris Hayward and Mick Potts – it’s safe to say I was already feeling Christmassy. But let me tell you, this year’s show really put the star on top of my mood.

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2021’s production of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was the first Theatre Royal panto I’ve missed in recent years (let’s not talk about the 2020 cancellations) so I was ready to be welcomed back into the comforting embrace of the faithful cast – with the addition of X Factor star McElderry, who also appeared in last year’s show – and losing myself in the magic.

Cinderella is a time-honoured classic. The story is one we all know and love from childhood; most of us have probably followed our Cindy’s journey to the ball and back more times than we care to count. But that’s the special thing about panto – it takes a well-known and loved story and makes it feel like something new, thanks to the theatre sparkle and a portfolio of jokes aimed at guests young and old.

And the Theatre Royal’s production also had the bonus of a glamourous Faerie Godfather (McElderry), more of which later.

If you’re a regular at the Newcastle panto, I’m pleased to report that all the favourites were present and correct – Acciderrrnt, Danny’s laugh, Mick’s comedic silence and a VERY special and much-loved finale number.

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It’s a delicate line to walk when you’re balancing contemporary jokes with a traditional story and weaving in the classic tropes that crowds love to join with – but it’s something the cast manages to pull off with much aplomb each year.

Cinderella is the 2022 pantomime in Newcastle, with performances running until January. Picture: Theatre Royal Newcastle.Cinderella is the 2022 pantomime in Newcastle, with performances running until January. Picture: Theatre Royal Newcastle.
Cinderella is the 2022 pantomime in Newcastle, with performances running until January. Picture: Theatre Royal Newcastle.

Father and son Clive and Danny have been starring in the Theatre Royal panto for 17 years, but their shows are still fresh. The addition of McElderry and dance group Flawless – of Britain’s Got Talent fame – brought a new flavour, with note-perfect musical numbers and dance routines (even one with a Danny cameo) that were up to the minute.

The effects were dazzling, the jokes were plentiful (loads for the mams and dads, as well as the little ones) and the laughs were louder than ever. Leading man Danny (as Buttons) always shares an incredible warmth and natural chemistry with whoever’s on stage, but his back-and-forth with McElderry made it feel as though they’d performed together for a lifetime.

And a word about Baroness Volupta (played by Hayward, surely the finest pantomime dame in all the land). She is THAT villain. The crowd loved to hate her – but really, just loved her deep down.

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I wish I had enough column inches to heap praise on every member of the production – from Cinderella’s step-sisters and the ensemble cast to the musicians in the orchestra pit. It was a brilliant night out to kick-off your Christmas, or bring your festive season to a close in style.

Cinderella is on at Newcastle Theatre Royal until Sunday, January 15. Visit the theatre website here for more details.