AN OPENING monologue sets the joke-soaked scene for The Newcastle Pantomime Company’s 2012 offering – a warm, fuzzy and funny mash up of Robin Hood and Babes in the Wood.
The voice of entertainment all-rounder (and Company founder) Brendan Healy, sadly missing from this year’s on-stage line-up, signaled the Geordie-marinated flavour of the afternoon’s proceedings. The action would be taking place in 1191 – before much was invented as it turns out.
There would be the hero Robin Hood, Earl of Throckley (or ‘Burb’ to his mates). There would be Ashley Lambias Erp, the dastardly Sheriff of Nottingham on Tyne.
Over the course of the story, we’re also introduced to Maid Marion (who thinks Robin is ‘proper lush’); polka-dot-onesie-wearing nanny Nursey (who has similar feelings towards the Sheriff) and firm crowd favourite, Norman Blumenthal – whose friends call him Numpty.
After introducing himself via the medium of whacking sweets into the audience with a tennis racket, the loveable aspiring chocolatier, played wonderfully by Charlie Richmond, took the audience in the palm of his hand and kept them there.
The tale, which features deep dark woods and dungeons, golden arrow contests, a babysitting Sheriff (their dad, King Richard is off crusading thanks to the money-saving offer from EasyJoust, and a knight who makes use of every speech impediment there is, is set to a poptastic soundtrack, delivered largely by principal boy Janie Mackenzie.
She is supported by JoJo Hatfield (of Capital FM) as Maid Marion, as well as a cast of dancers – the littlest of who deserve special praise for their part in the animals in the forest routine.
Veteran panto star Maxie Peters plays Nurse Nora with aplomb, while Steve Wraith garners the obligatory boos and hisses as the Sheriff. Applause must go to Glen Joseph, who has no less than three supporting roles.
However the audience need to play their part too. Robin Hood and the Babes in the Wood is at the Mill Volvo Tyne Theatre, until January 6.