Last year it was Robin Hood, the year before that it was Aladdin. 2019 marks Jonny Wilkes’ 14th Stokie Pantomime at The Regent Theatre and this time, we’re in for another Disney-inspired treat with Sleeping Beauty as he stars as Muddles.
Jonny’s sidekick, the ‘big fat Welsh bloke in a frock’ Christian Patterson is joining him, starring in his 11th Christmas performance in Hanley as Fanny, the Nanny. Let’s face it – it wouldn’t be the same without them, would it.
In an interview, Jonny revealed that the secret to panto was ‘that it needs great company that consists of people who respect and appreciate working together.’
That’s something that really does come across on stage, too. The dynamic duo are joined once again by Kai Owen (King Cyril) and Delme Thomas (Chi-Chi), as well as Vivien Parry (Carabosse) and Naomi slights (Princess Beauty).
Coming to the pantomime is a Christmas tradition for many, and one I look forward to every year. I love coming back each year to see the same stars of the shows with undeniable camaraderie and chemistry on stage; and of course, the same daft jokes told over and over again. They just don’t get old – a bit like Beryl, who’s 111 again!
Sleeping Beauty is running from Friday, December 13 to Sunday, January 5 (which means there’s still time to grab a ticket if you haven’t already – get them here).
First on stage is Chi-Chi, and Delme is guaranteed to get you in the mood for a good night with his sass and inappropriate jokes. I left Robin Hood last year saying I wanted to bring him home with me, and said the same to Jake this year – he’s a little firecracker.
The whole show is jam-packed with local jokes, pranks and a bit of fun – but Sleeping Beauty should come with a warning: Tories, Stoke City supporters and The Royal family may be offended by some content. That’s right, there are some pretty risqué jokes, but Jonny and Christian have been doing this long enough to know what they can get away with.
Our loveable local lad Jonny is as charming as ever, and knows himself that some jokes are getting on a bit – but as long as we keep laughing, he’ll keep pulling them (and those bloody loo rolls) out of the bag. Again – it wouldn’t be a proper Stokie panto without them.
But it is all still kept new and fresh with funky new features, including the Fanny Cam. The gang attempt their annual potentially career-ending tongue twister, this year with a ‘pheasant plucker’ – can you see where that’s heading? And there was one hell of a BGT tribute. I’ll have nightmares of Jonny and Christian as Stavros Flatley for weeks.
The ensemble was stellar, and their execution of choreography and tricks was mesmerising. Watching the younger ‘babes’ from The Wilkes Academy of Performing Arts was super heart-warming, as for some, it could have been their debut on-stage performance. It’s great that Jonny is able to give them that opportunity.
Stoke, you’re in for a real treat with this one – you really are. It’s big, it’s fun, it’s interactive and nowhere does a pantomime quite like Staffordshire.
If you fancy coming along to watch the show and get into the Christmas spirit, you can buy tickets here.