What would Christmas be without a trip to panto? And what would a Stokie Christmas panto be without Jonny Wilkes and Christian Patterson? It’s a tradition for hundreds of families and this particular formula has become somewhat of an institution for Stoke-on-Trent and the Regent Theatre. This year it was Cinderella, a tale we all know and as usual, Christian (who stars in and writes the script) put his usual comical spin on it.
The set was as magical as ever but with that special Christmas spirit sparkle. Christian Patterson and Simon Nehan made the most hilarious duo as the Ugly Sisters, Wilkes starred as Buttons and was a charming as ever, Finley Guy made the perfect Cinderella with a gorgeous singing voice and my favourite discovery was Ian Stroughair who played the part of Dandini; Prince Charming’s righthand man. Stroughhair has a phenomenal singing voice and I would love to see him in other productions as he could easily carry a lead role in my opinion.
Mine, and from the chatter floating around at the interval, everyone’s favourite part of the performance was Cinderella’s dress change. It was beautiful and magical – I remarked to my parents who I brought along with me that I wish I could have re-winded it to watch it unfold again. The whole scene was immaculately orchestrated with the horse and carriage and… well I don’t want to spoil it for you because you MUST go and see this year’s performance.
The fact that the same crowds return year upon year to see the Christmas panto along with a new flock of families is testament to Wilkes, Patterson and everyone at the Regent Theatre. Each year they deliver on bringing bucket loads of festive cheer (and chuckles – audience and cast alike I might add) and you come to expect their playful sense of humour – and even get to know some of their gags – but it never feels done and outdated and Christian Patterson shows his attention to detail with timely references… Hello mannequin challenge! You just know that the cast are having just as good a time as the audience.
The 12 Days of Panto had the whole audience up and the traditional post-performance audience interaction where children are invited up on stage and we all have a good sing-song is just what Christmas is all about. Good festive cheer, kindness and bringing friends, families and neighbours (even in the next seat along) together.
Cinderella is playing at The Regent Theatre until January 8th. For tickets, call the box office on 0844 871 7649.