Newcastle Panto Company are back! - Sleeping Beauty at Gateshead International Stadium Review

*Press Review

Sleeping Beauty at Gateshead International Stadium is our 7th Panto this year and by this point, we're usually getting a little fed up with the same old jokes and songs. Newcastle Panto Company are firm favourites with our family though and we spent years watching their Christmas productions at Tyne Theatre and Opera House before they moved to their brand new venue this year so as we parked our car, we still felt excited and were intrigued as to how the new format was going to play out. 

A Panto in a Sports Hall

First of all, a word about the new venue. Gateshead International Stadium has lots of plus points for me - it's a short walk from the Metro Station, there are 750 FREE parking spaces, there's on-site catering with hot food options (you're even allowed to take your bag of chips into the theatre) - we often struggle with getting everyone fed and watered after school before a panto trip so this is perfect for us and finally, the seats are well appointed and spacious. The theatre is actually a sports court with a black curtain around it and temporary seating so not exactly the most inspiring of spaces - it's comfortable though and serves it's purpose. The only thing I would say is that the acoustics often weren't the best - the live band was situated on the other side of the theatre to us and sounded as if it was backstage or slightly out of time due to the space. I can forgive this though as you aren't watching this Panto for the acoustics after all. The only other negative is the lack of toilets - the theatre sits 750+ people and there are only two cubicles for the ladies in the immediate vicinity. These are situated in the gym changing rooms so it's certainly a little different. There are more facilities available at reception if you fancy stretching your legs. 

Sleeping Beauty - A Proper Geordie Panto

Newcastle Panto Company really is a proper Geordie panto and I honestly think they manage to stick to their roots and provide this. The fact that you are sitting in a sports hall actually really adds to sense of nostalgia and I said to Steve that this is the one panto we've watched this year that really reminded me of the pantos I used to watch in the 80s. From the simple staging to the throwing of sweets into the audience, local references aplenty and asking a few lucky children up on stage - this panto has everything you need for a proper family night out with lots of laughs. 

The jokes are all clean in this panto - there's no innuendo or risque jokes just lots of clean family fun. There is quite an emphasis on name-calling and poking fun at fat people and there are a few references to drinking too much alcohol but it's all done in good jest and I think it's wrong to let the PC-brigade suck all of the fun out of panto so I'm ok with this. 

There are no big-name stars to speak of but this doesn't matter as the cast all really excel on stage. You'd never guess that this was Brian Lonsdale's panto debut as Numpty Norman, he was a natural on stage and really had us all on his side from the outset. Watch out for that water pistol though! Sarah Badger as Fairy Merryweather and Christina Dawson as Queen Bella were also superb and I loved that these ladies were given their own jokes and scenes rather than playing second fiddle to their male counterparts. There's a scene from X Factor featuring a Tina Turner number that is particularly hilarious and had me in stitches. It still tickles me now thinking about it.

I love a good baddie and Phillipa Wilson plays Carabosse extremely well and although there was one too many 'oh no there isn'ts' for me (yep there's no pleasing me), I think she played the panto villain to perfection. There's lots of audience interaction, screaming and cracking one liners when she's on stage. 

One of the things I loved about Sleeping Beauty was the music - there's a fantastic mix of 80s, 90s and modern music and with ACDC, Whitney Houston, PJ and Duncan and Ed Sheeran on the soundtrack, you won't be able to resist singing along. Emily Swan is a lovely leading lady and the choreography is polished and perfect. 

The real heart of the panto is Maxi Peters and Bob Stott who play two canny sisters from Gateshead charged with looking after the Royal household. Years of working together really pays off and they play off each other perfectly. You won't want to miss the Twelve Days of Christmas scene either - with balloons, and a bra that holds three, you can't help but laugh out loud. It turns out the old jokes really are the best. 

Scores on the doors:

Sam - 8/10
Steve - 9/10
Harry - 9/10
Heidi - 10/10
Jack - 10/10

Sleeping Beauty is our highest scoring panto this year! If you're looking for a proper Geordie night out with no frills but lots of laughs, this is the panto for you. 

Need to know: 

  • Sleeping Beauty continues at Gateshead International Stadium until 30 December 2017. Tickets are available online here with FREE transport available for schools on certain performances. 
  • Free parking is available on-site with and Gateshead Stadium Metro Station is a 5 minute walk from the venue
  • A cash bar is available before the show and at the interval alongside hot food and snacks
  • The show lasts 2 hours 30 minutes including an interval although it was more like 2 hours 45 minutes on the evening

Check out my other 2017 Panto Reviews here: 



  1. Its seems crazy thinking about Christmas now, but we've already started to book Panto Tickets! Newcastle Panto did a great show last year and I'm sure their new venue will allow them to continue. Pantomime and Christmas creates that perfect family set up where the humour tickles the kids and is generally encrypted enough to entertain the adults too.

  2. Sounds great, although with a toddler with a bladder the size of a 50p piece that might be a bit of an issue for us. Glad it works well at the new venue - might book to try this one next year as I’ve heard lots of good things about Newcastle Panto company.

  3. Brilliant afternoon spent at the Panto, my grandsons first visit to see a pantomime. He really enjoyed it as did we. A very entertaining show. Well done all the cast.


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