Pantomime production company NS has unveiled the Pantodrome, a purpose-built threatre that will play host to the star-sudded Jack and the Beanstalk in December. The pop-up theatre is the brainchild of managing director Jamie Owen, who had struggled to find a venue capable of hosting the kind of show he wanted to create.
The event features former Coronation Street, Waterloo Road, and Loose Women star Denise Welch appearing as Mother Nature and Emmerdale’s Adam Thomas as Jack.
Access understands that NS has used a pop-up venue as a solution for smaller events in recent years with positive results. This experience has given confidence to Owen, who is now certain that the Pantodrome is a perfect fit for this large-scale programme.
“I think Newcastle is ready for something new and different,” Owen told Access. “There are pantos in the region that suit different tastes – some people like tradition with a local cast, others like modern shows with special effects. The opportunity for a residency very rarely comes up in the region so we wanted to offer a perfect balance at the Pantodrome by creating a show that has all of the traditional elements of pantomime, but also has the wow factor that people expect from theatre these days in a venue that’s only there for Christmas and will always be associated with Christmas!”
The Theatre Royal and the Tyne Theatre and Opera House both have staged large-scale pantomimes in the past, but the company’s vision aimed to make a production popular with local audiences by combining traditional pantomime and local humour with high production values.
Commenting on the Pantodrome, Owen said that the space could be used for other theatre productions if there was a demand for it.
“Celebrity casting is also a big thing for me,” Owen explained. “I used to visit pantomimes four, five, and six times a season when I was little, and the highlight of my year was always the announcement of the Christmas pantomime and finding out which star would be on it.”
Owen also commented that shows in the North East very rarely use celebrities now, and if that’s the case, they aren’t really current stars. “I think I have the perfect balance with Adam and Denise – she’s a local lass – Geordie’s love their own and she will provide that Northern element. Adam is so current at the minute and loved by everyone. Ingredients for a perfect panto!”
Meet the supplier
Temporary structure specialists Neptunus has been commissioned to build the Pantodrome in Newcastle’s city centre.
“Representatives from NS Pantomimes came to this summer’s National Eisteddfod in Anglesey and were amazed by the quality of the 2,000-seat theatre we built for that event, which was broadcast on TV across Wales,” said April Trasler, Neptunus MD.
The one-off Pantodrome has been designed to take just a week to build and also a week to breakdown. Neptunus will be using its Evolution structures that, spanning more than 1,000sqm and standing on eight metre high legs, will form the main auditorium. A 300sqm Alure Globe will adjoin the main structure to form an entrance foyer, bar area and washrooms.
Neptunus is also responsible for providing an under-structure to ensure a level base for the venue, tiered seating, and toilet facilities for the audience and the cast.
The Pantodrome will open from 11 December and will play host of 40 performances.