Pupils at Ponteland’s Darras Hall First School were treated to a workshop by the cast of Newcastle Theatre Royal’s upcoming production of Dick Whittington on Friday.
The roadshow involved a 45-minute play going behind the scenes of the panto and giving children the chance to learn all about the traditions of pantomime, as well as seeing what goes into putting on one of the seasonal shows.
Peter Tincombe, Headteacher at the Broadway school, said: “We are very fortunate to have benefited from the visit of the pantomime roadshow, which the children have hugely enjoyed.
“Opportunities afforded by the roadshow are immensely valuable, both for providing high-quality enjoyment and also, perhaps most importantly, to provide our children with the chance to work and perform with professional actors in front of an audience of their peers.
“The performances today will fondly remain with the children for many years.”
A short play was followed by a question-and-answer session, and there was an opportunity for a handful of children to try out the show’s costumes for themselves.
The show’s real-life dame, Chris Hayward, was on hand to answer questions.
The Newcastle-born actor returns to theatre’s panto this year for his 10th year as Dame Rita Fitz-Fenwick.
“When I used to do panto all over England, we used to go into the schools and do chats, but this is the first time I’ve done anything like this near Newcastle,” said the 51-year-old.
“It’s funny what some of the kids talk about. One asked ‘what were you like when you were a little girl?’, and they don’t understand, but it’s nice to be involved with it.
Fellow cast member Nigel Ellacott added: “It’s a wonderful opportunity for the children to learn where panto comes from and its fairytale traditions – how we dress men as women and used to have ladies dressed as men, as well as the educational elements of increasing their vocabulary to include theatrical terminology.”
The Grey Street theatre’s pantomime runs from Tuesday, November 24, until Sunday, January 17.
Talking about returning to Newcastle again, Hayward added: “I love it.
“I love doing panto here, and the audiences are always brilliant, and there are really busy, good houses every day and, of course, it’s nice to be home.”
Tickets for the panto cost from £12.50 and can be purchased from the venue’s box office on 0844 811 2121 or booked online at www. theatreroyal.co.uk
The show’s cast also includes Danny Adams, Clive Webb and former Emmerdale actress Charlie Hardwick.