Panto critics should be careful what they wish for

Two years ago I had the privilege of appearing in The Regent Theatre’s pantomime – Dick Whittington.

It was a fantastic experience during which I made many friends and gained something of an insight into the world of musical theatre.

Cast members included the supremely-talented Sheila Ferguson, Christian Patterson and Steve Serlin as well as my mate Jonathan Wilkes.

I can tell you that not only was Jonny the lead in the production, he also played a major role in script editing and directing the show.

I’m reliably informed that this is not the norm and I know that Jonny went that extra mile day after day because he was performing in his home city.

There’s no doubt that having this home-grown performer in the panto has put bums on seats year after year.

However, you can’t please everyone – which is why The Sentinel would receive a couple of dozen letters annually which basically said ‘Oh no, not him again’.

Well, these critics have got their wish and for the first time in six years Jonny won’t be appearing at The Regent this Christmas.

I’ll be there, as usual, on opening night – doing my level best not to compare this year’s offering with what has gone before.

I wish Joe Swash and the rest of the cast of Aladdin all the best for their tenure at what is a superb venue with wonderful audiences.

Meanwhile our Jonny will be doing his thing at the Aylesbury Waterside Theatre and I can’t resist making the trip to see what we are missing.

It will be interesting to see if, by the end of December, theatre-goers in the Potteries are calling for Jonny’s return. Oh yes it will.


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