It's panto season again, one of my favourite times of the year! As a child my family would always make sure to go along to the local pantomime between Christmas and New Year - it became a bit of a tradition, and one that we are trying to continue with Elodie.

This year Sunderland Empire are hosting Peter Pan, a fun filled show for all of the family and kids of all ages. Having seen other pantos over and over again, it's nice to see Peter Pan adapted for the stage for a change. We were lucky enough to be invited along to the press night and see what the show had to offer.
peter pan pantomime sunderland empire review press night
The celebrity packed cast includes Jamie Lomas, best known for playing Hollyoaks' resident bad boy Warren Fox and for being runner up in last years I'm A Celebrity.. as Hook and Mr Darling, Richard McCourt, one half of children's TV stars Dick & Dom as Smee and Melanie Walters from Gavin & Stacey as Mrs Darling and the mermaid. Peter Pan is played by West End star Josh Andrews and Ruth Betteridge originally from Sunderland, plays a really great Wendy.

This was out first time visiting the Empire and we were amazed at not only how big it is (with 2000 seats in the theatre, making it the biggest theatre in the North East) but how grand and breath taking the whlole building is, inside and out. The traditional d├ęcor is beautiful with the high ceilings, red velvet seats and golden detailing adorning all four floors of the theatre. Our seats for the performance were in the dress circle and our view was amazing, we could see the entire stage throughout and having Peter Pan fly right in front of us, was pretty spectacular. The only downside to us not being in the stalls (according to Elodie) was that we didn't get wet when Peter Pan and Smee turned their water pistols on the crowd!
peter pan pantomime sunderland empire review press night
The story follows the fairy tale we all know and love with Peter, the boy who never grew up introducing the three Darling children to his magical world of Neverland. On their adventures they meet Tinkerbell, Tiger Lily, The Lost Boys and of course evil Captain Hook, his acrobatic pirate gang and comical sidekick Smee. 

The staging of the show is really impressive with lots of set changes, costume changes and of course fairy dust, magic and flying. Well known songs including The Greatest Showman's 'Come Alive', 'Defying Gravity' from the musical Wicked, George Ezra's 'Paradise' and the love it or hate it song of the year 'Baby Shark' are included in the show for the crowd to sing along with and plenty of jokes for the adults and the youngsters keep the crowd entertained, including a few Sunderland/Newcastle rivalry jokes and shouts of 'bogies' throughout from Richard McCourt .

We found ourselves really invested in the story, cheering on Peter Pan in his sword fights, booing every time the evil (yet loveable thanks to Jamie Lomas' portrayal of the character) Hook came onto the stage and gasping in amazement as Peter Pan flew and somersaulted across the crowd to the back of the theatre.

The show will make you love the story and the characters all over again, it will take you back to your childhood and have you wanting to climb aboard the Jolly Roger yourself!

Peter Pan is in Sunderland until Sunday 6th January, so there's still plenty of time to see the show.
Will you be going along to see the show?

We received our tickets for free, but all thoughts and opinions are our own.
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