I went to my first ever Christmas pantomime - and it was like I'd never grown old

Peter Pan, by Enchanted Entertainment, is on at the Tyne Theatre & Opera House, Newcastle, until January 7.
Peter Pan is showing at the Tyne Theatre until January.Peter Pan is showing at the Tyne Theatre until January.
Peter Pan is showing at the Tyne Theatre until January.

Unlike Neverland, in the real world, everyone grows old. Life, and it's many stresses and strains, is enough to drain the fun out of anyone.

That's why we should cherish the throwback, slapstick theatre that sweeps into venues across the region every festive period, even I only broke my panto virginity last weekend.

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So, maybe I'm being a little fast and loose with the truth there. I've been to pantos. Done them with family and on school trips when I was a kid. Never, 'til this point, as an adult however. And for one night, at least, I, like the lead protagonist, too wished I'd never aged a day.

The full Peter Pan cast outside the Tyne Theatre.The full Peter Pan cast outside the Tyne Theatre.
The full Peter Pan cast outside the Tyne Theatre.

I'll be honest, my memory has faded since the last time I went to the theatre properly. I'm more of a 22 blokes running around a football field kind of fella when it comes to entertainment. So, I have to say, I wasn't at all sure what to expect. There was definitely plenty of chants - so that's something I could get along with.

Peter Pan, staged by Enchanted Entertainment, at the Tyne Theatre & Opera House blew me away. From the hilarious cast members full of old music hall humour, the singalongs and the sets - it was a taste of pure storytelling, interactive magic from the moment the curtain raised.

The cast includes Matt Lapinskas as Peter Pan, known for his role as Anthony Moon in EastEnders and Dancing on Ice as well as Olivier Award-winning actress and star of CBBC, Cleo Demetriou, as Wendy Darling. Former X-Factor finalist and Capital Radio presenter Sam Lavery brought some glamour, while jokes aplenty were fired in from Charlie Richmond, as Mr. Smee, Lewis Denny, as Mrs. Smee and Micky Cochrane playing the villain of the cast Captain Hook/Mr. Darling.

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The tale, is one told in, of course, J.M Barrie's world famous book, and told and told again in films and cartoons of the modern era. This one, however, came with a real Geordie twist, with M*ckem jokes aplenty!

This wasn't just an awakening for me, it was a refreshing site to see so many of the next generation, wide eyed, smiling, engaged. So often in the world we live in, children a glued to tablets, playing games or watching other kids play on devices. Long gone are the days of spending hours out on the streets, kicking a ball, up to mischief, half an ear open for the call home for tea or bed.

Nowadays it's Fortnite and YouTube, the innocence of youth seems a tale of old. So to witness my own two little ones, ten and seven, laughing, joyful, engrossed in something so live, present and real was enough to make this not yet too old dad, smile from ear to ear.

If you have any doubts whether pantos are for you, or even if you have to drag the kids to see one, please read this piece and book. Book now. You will not be disappointed. In fact, you'll likely reignite bonds with those close to you which can so often be eroded in the monotony of working life - and you never know, you might even find the inner child in yourself this festive season. For one night, I was the boy who wouldn't grow up. Shame we have to wait 'til Easter for another bite at the panto cherry - I'm hooked, pardon the pun!

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Tickets are available from just £16.50. To book your tickets, call Tyne Theatre & Opera House box office at 0844 249 1000 or visit www.tynetheatreandoperahouse.uk.

The show runs until January 7, 2024.

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