Liam Rudden: Dame of two halves as Toon panto heads north

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I TOOK a trip to Newcastle last Thursday to catch my first panto of the year - Jack And The Beanstalk, at the Theatre Royal.

And what a show it was - two and a bit hours of mayhem, magic and madness from local heroes Danny Adams, Clive Webb and Chris Hayward, the closest a modern panto Dame comes to capturing the spirit of the legendary Stanley Baxter.

Newcastle’s Theatre Royal has, in my opinion, one of the best pantomimes in the country. It’s fast, colourful and most importantly inventive. That, in no small part, is down to its writer, producer and director, Michael Harrison.

Michael understands what makes a good panto. He also knows how to update the traditions to keep them relevant. Now, if you are wondering what all this has to do with Edinburgh, it’s simple - this year, Michael also makes his debut as Executive Producer of The King’s panto, Peter Pan.

It’s a homecoming of sorts, as he studied drama here in the Capital, back in the days when Queen Margaret University had an acting course second to none.

I was lucky enough to catch Peter Pan last Sunday and as I said in my review - which can be read at here - a new era of King’s panto has begun.

Funnily, despite coming from the same production company, both Edinburgh and Newcastle productions are very different. That is down to their stars and, of course, most important of all the local references - the lifeblood of any panto.

Over the next few weeks I shall be seeing productions as far afield as Glasgow, York, Inverness and Belfast. Of one thing I’m sure, however, there’s nothing like a panto to get you into the Christmas spirit... though why some of them run into February, I’ll never know.